To Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, I am writing to you as a 22-year-old college student in the year 2020.
In 1963, more than 55 years ago, you delivered a speech and began a movement that would rock this country to its core. You went to defy the laws of the country and stood for something that would change the direction of life for generations to come way after yours. For this, I thank you.
It was your courage, strength, passion but most importantly your love for others that took you on a mission to change the country for the better. Where you saw injustice, you saw resolution. Those who followed you and stood with you saw a leader they could trust—therefore, the course of life changed for everyone. You were never for just one ethnicity and your movement was not about one over the other, it was for all people, all ethnicities and for equality all around.
I wish you could see this country now and the progress we continue to make. From government officials, celebrities, CEO’s, influencers and so on, there is representation of every ethnicity. The truth is that while the civil rights movement in our minds seems so long ago, it was not. My generation’s grandparents grew up during that time and some parents were even born into it.
There are times when I have sat in the kitchen with my grandparents listening to them tell a story about a time when my small, loving hometown in South Texas was separated by color. Where my grandpa had to walk on one side of the street and couldn’t have access to certain things. My grandmother, although Hispanic, was a much lighter color and often mistaken for being white, had more freedom than my grandpa. My mother, born just three years after the end of the civil rights movement, tells me times when growing up or being my age, she experienced a lot more racism and prejudices than now.
The harsh reality is this was the way the world was not so long ago at all—separated by color of whether you were black, brown, or white. I, myself, have experienced a bit of racism here and there but I know where we are now, is not where we were and not where we will be forever.
Some may say this country is still divided and still an example of racism and maybe in our selfish human nature, there always will be a sense of it. However, the progress we have made is illuminating. In full transparency, there are still many issues that need attention and need fixing. There are certain aspects that are still unjust, but the country is still evolving and working towards fixing these issues. I am not invalidating any experiences or being naïve to issues currently happening; I am just here to say that for those issues, I am sorry and that there still is a brighter future that awaits.
There will always be people who turn a blind eye to the issues regarding racism that a country faces, but there are also people who see things for what they are who will do their best to change it. Whether that’s through peaceful social movements or just showing love and compassion to another, “hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” I’d like to imagine where we will be in twenty years, even closer as a nation than now and further away from the lingering separation that still sits in some people’s minds.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., I wish you could see how your dream manifested. Where people choose to still see darkness and arrogance, there is so much light that occurs. There is so much service, so much love, so many meals and laughs shared amongst people of all types. Your vision of a country where there was no separation in who could be what or who could be where has emerged into something beautiful.
For the dream you had, many dreams got to come true for black and brown people across the nation. It was for you and every other civil rights activist who changed the trajectory of our beloved nation. It is the people who are still fighting now and the groups created for positive change that will continue to steer our country in the greatest direction. It is those people who choose not to see color or prejudices who continue to bridge barriers. It is those with the courage and strength you resembled who will continue to stand up for those who can’t stand up for themselves. As humans, we will always be a work in progress, but it is for your precedent and your dream that we will continue to try and make flawless in how we love and treat each other. As you once said, “our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., thank you for the tone you set for our country. We hope to continue to strive towards a country that loves and supports people of all different demographics in the most loving way possible.