Fifty-two years ago today, Aug. 28, Martin Luther King Jr. gave his “I Have a Dream” speech during the March on Washington. Minutes into his speech, King stated, “One hundred years later, the Negro is still not free,” and 52 years after that speech, “free” is still something of a pipe dream.
An estimated 250,000 people attended the March on Washington, and over the last couple of months, marches for civil rights still occur. From Ferguson, Mo., to Staten Island, N.Y., the unrest that King witnessed in his time is still going on today. The only difference is that now people are armed with smartphones and social media. The revolution has been digitized.
Protest signs are still present, but now there are also hashtags. There are calls for movement on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. People around the world have witnessed black people being killed by police. They’ve witnessed cops getting off scot-free. They’ve seen how, 10 years after Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans is still trying to rebuild itself.
King had big dreams when he stood at the podium in front of those people. But are we there yet?
Fifty-two years later, the Negro is still not free from police brutality, inequalities in education or unfair housing practices, and even the enjoyment of the simple pleasures of life can be disrupted at the drop of a dime.
The sad part about present-day society is that there are people who don’t even realize that the injustices King spoke about in his infamous speech still exist. They live in a world where they can turn a blind eye and act as if present-day problems aren’t extensions of the past.
Systemic injustices haven’t fixed themselves. Those in power haven’t fixed them. And if something doesn’t happen soon, in 100 years the Negro will still not be free.