Feb 21

Fifty-Seven Years Later

“One hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. And so we've come here today to dramatize a shameful condition." (King 1)

Dr. King was right. We must end this shameful condition. February is Black History Month, and as we recognize the work of black artists and writers, we must also recognize the racism that still pervades our nation. There is no better time to end racism. As Dr. King said, “Now is the time.”  
America’s history of black enslavement began exactly 401 years and six months ago. In August of 1619, a ship, the White Lion, brought twenty natives from Africa to Virginia.  These human beings were sold, enslaved, and put to work, beginning a system of slavery based on skin color, and the start of horrible injustices that would last for centuries. 
Three hundred years later, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was born. He attended Morehouse College at the age of fifteen. In 1955, at age 25, he earned his Ph.D.  Dr. King’s powerful “I Have a Dream” speech, delivered on August 28, 1963, at the Lincoln Memorial, demonstrated his mastery of rhetoric.  King spoke with anaphora, antithesis, and amplification. Importantly, he understood kairos: he saw the moment and seized it. He delivered this speech about civil rights to an audience of 250,000 at the March on Washington, 100 years after the Emancipation Proclamation. He spoke out for what was right in front of the Lincoln Memorial. He spoke out for what was right, and for that, on April 4, 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. 

Fifty-seven years later, “the negro is still not free.” Slavery has ended, injustice has not. A Pew Research Center study shows that while 36 percent of white Americans earn a college degree, only 23 percent of black Americans do. This is not equality. In 2014, the median income for African American workers was $43,000; in 2014, the median income for white American workers was over $70,000. This is not equality. While 10% of white Americans lived in poverty, 26% of black Americans lived in poverty. This is not equality!  
Neither inequality nor racism appear to be ending in our country.  A 2019 survey conducted by the Pew Research Center study indicates an increase in the expression of racist views since President Donald Trump was elected.  Over the last four years, it has become 65% more common to express racist views and 45%  more acceptable to express racist views.  

Now is the time.  This February, during Black History Month, let us work to end racism once and for all. “Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood” (2). Dr. King was killed fifty-two years ago. Why have we waited so long?  Why should we wait any longer? Now is the time!

- By Luca Domingos-Worth, Plainfield, NH, seventh grade, Crossroads Academy