January 16, 2012

Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

By Joshua P. Thompson Senior Attorney

Today we celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.  We are celebrating a man who gave his life to liberty and equality under the law.  For someone born in 1979, in northern Wisconsin, it is hard for me to imagine that less than 50 years ago, Dr. King was leading a march on Washington to end segregationist policies that blatantly denied African-Americans equal rights. We owe Dr. King so much.  His eloquence, passion, and dedication moved this country forward; he shined a light on the evils of segregation and discrimination, and, in so doing, changed the minds of a country.

During the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, Dr. King gave his famous, “I have a Dream” speech.  I urge all of you to read (or watch) it on this important day, for while we have come so far in realizing Dr. King’s dream, the battle for equality under the law is not over.  Dr. King dreamt that his “four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”  Unfortunately, as we remember Dr. King today, that dream is not realized.

All too often in this country people are treated as a product of their skin color.  Because of their skin color, African-American (and Latino) students are being treated differently than white and Asian students by the University of Texas.  Because of their skin color, African-Americans and Pacific-Asians are being treated differently than whites, Latinos, and subcontinent-Asians by the California Department of Transportation.  Because of their skin color, high school students of all races are impacted by the Obama Administration’s decision to advise high schools and universities nationwide to discriminate.

But there is hope on the horizon.  There is a growing movement towards eliminating all differential treatment.  Just this year, New Hampshire joined California, Washington, Michigan, Arizona, Nebraska, Louisiana, and Florida in prohibiting their government from considering an individual’s race.  Further, PLF is fighting everyday to eliminate racial discrimination on many different fronts.  Tomorrow we are expecting to hear that the Supreme Court granted certiorari in Fisher v. University of Texas.  We will be at the front of that battle and all the other battles that come down.

On Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, let us remember this great man.  Let us remember his life-long fight for liberty and equality.  Let us remember that we are fighting for his dream.  And let us remember that the fight is not over until all individuals are judged by the content of their character and not the color of their skin.  

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