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Realizing his dream

Posted 1/16/20

Monday is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. As we observe this Federal Holiday, it's important to think about the state of our country and the legacy of the man this day recognizes.

It's been nearly 57 …

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Realizing his dream

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Monday is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. As we observe this Federal Holiday, it's important to think about the state of our country and the legacy of the man this day recognizes.

It's been nearly 57 years since King stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and extolled the virtues of equality, tolerance, justice and nonviolence.

He described his dream that one day soon we would be able to “transform the jangled discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood.”

While we have made great strides since the tumultuous social conditions of the 1960s, King's dream has yet to be fully realized even all these years later.

The Hate Crime Statistics Act of 1990 defines hate crimes as "crimes that manifest evidence of prejudice based on race, gender or gender identity, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or ethnicity."

The FBI reported 7,175 incidents of hate crimes in 2017, which is the most recent year that data is available. The number of offenses in 2017 presents a 17 percent increase from 2016, and an uptick for three consecutive years from 5,479 incidents in 2014.

You need only to look at the victims of recent acts of violence to put names and human faces to some of these statistics. Whether it's a shooting at a synagogue in Pittsburgh or a church in Charleston, South Carolina, these incidents remind us that our history of discrimination is not so distant. The work that Martin Luther King Jr. began is still unfinished. We can do better in this country and now is not the time to accept things as they are.

“We are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream,” King said. “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.'”

The responsibility falls on us. Changing the country for the better starts with strengthening the bonds in our own communities.

The Sullivan County Human Rights Commission and Sullivan Allies leading Together (SALT) will hold a march against hate on Sunday, January 19 starting at 4:30 p.m.

The March will begin at the corner of St. John Street and Broadway and lead to the steps of the Lawrence H. Cooke Courthouse where a vigil is to be held.

Let's set aside all the identity politics that divide us and join together to celebrate what we have in common.

If we can't get to the “promised land” King spoke of, at least we'll never stop marching toward it.

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