As the nation celebrates the accomplishments of notable African-Americans during Black History Month, Texas Southern University students are expressing their views on the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
One of many civil rights leaders who rose to fame during the 1950’s and 60’s, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. helped pave the way to racial equality among all races in every aspect of society. King led the fight for racial equality through sit-ins, boycotts, marches, and public speeches such as “I Have a Dream.”
“We are in school for a higher purpose,” said Lindsay Seymour, a human services and computer sciences student. “If we keep the goal to better ourselves, our communities, and African-American people in entirety, that will honor Dr. King. We would be making him proud as a legacy instead of being stereotypical African-Americans that people depict on television.”
Martin Luther King Jr. Day became a holiday in 1983 after President Ronald Reagan signed a bill creating a day to honor King. However, as time passes and racism becomes a less prevalent issue, King’s work is seemingly losing significance among youth and young adults.
“I think King’s work should be more important to children,” said Courtenay Euton, a second year law student at the Thurgood Marshall School of Law. “People don’t realize how important diversity is inside education and the work environment.”
“The importance of the Civil Rights Movement and Black History are becoming watered down,” said Seymour. “Children don’t really have a grasp of how difficult it was for African-Americans to overcome things during those days.”
Depending on the person’s environment, Dr. King’s work is still revered.
“I grew up in an area where it was really important,” said Ify Anugwom, a senior biology major. “We learned about Dr. King throughout the entire school year. Some adults may not see it as important because they were not exposed to it.”
Dr. King hoped that one day people of color would “not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” And with the United States’ election of the first African-American president, Barack Obama, King’s dream has arguably been accomplished. However, racism is still an issue for young adults.
“I think more work is needed, but we have come a long way,” said Euton. “I still think some people will always be stuck in the old ways of racism but until we can get everyone to look past that it won’t work 100 percent. I think there is still racism and ethnic differences that people are not willing to compromise within teams and work environments. I think people can let their own culture get the best of them.”
Dr. King’s work on civil rights and equality left a lasting mark on the nation. His work paved the way for all people of color to have the option to achieve their goals.
“Dr. King’s legacy means justice,” said Branden Leverette, a senior communications major. “He fought for us to be where we are today.”
“His legacy means to help your fellow brother, especially as African-Americans,” said Seymour. “Also, to do what you can to make sure that equality is given to everyone regardless of differences they may have. Your service as a person can never stop if there is an injustice to anyone anywhere.”