One thing we know Dr. Martin Luther King Jr believed in was the family of man, and the universal right belonging to every member of the human family to lives that offered security, civility, justice and opportunity.
Dr. King’s career followed a clear upward, outward arc, preaching human rights for a wider and wider community of unfairly treated people, while confronting an equally expanding set of issues, from access to city buses in Birmingham to the war in Vietnam to economic inequality across America.
MLK’s religious side wanted people to be guaranteed a chance to be good. His social-political side insisted part of the guarantee should be a chance to have a good life.
Good lives, personal, family, community, beyond – all start with security. A crucial human right is to feel safe from insult or injury at home, and everywhere else. When Dr. King began his campaigns, that sense of security was, for most African Americans, more an aspiration than a fact of life.
Not just in Alabama or the Deep South, but across America, many people of color felt painfully insecure when confronted, for example, by a police officer. And a well-earned fear of discrimination also dominated their civic lives: their interactions with government offices or services, and their ambitions in politics.
Not for nothing is Dr. King best remembered as a leader of the civil rights movement, and its assertion that all people are entitled to fair treatment by government and fair access to its levers of power.
Justice: equal treatment for all people under law, and by its officers of enforcement and judgment was the rebar around which the civil rights movement was built. Justice was another goal Martin Luther King Jr. repeatedly tested, repeatedly demanded and immeasurably improved in America.
The final King aspiration, the one he was just conceiving as the Poor People’s March on Washington when he was murdered in Memphis, was to turn America away from economic inequality, towards social spending that actually gave everyone the opportunity to better themselves. Better access to better education, sure, but built on guarantees of sufficiency of food and shelter to enable anyone to grasp opportunity.
Security, civility, justice and opportunity: those are four defining areas of life. Today on Martin Luther King Day, let’s consider whether those aspects of the lives of America’s people of color have been changed by and during the Donald Trump era.
While still in high school in Middletown, Ohio, Page worked for the Middletown Journal and the Cincinnati Enquirer. After graduating from Ohio University (B.S.) in 1969, he was hired by the Chicago Tribune as a reporter. Within several months, however, he was drafted into the army, where he served as a journalist. In 1971 Page returned to the Tribune, and from 1980 to 1984 he worked at the Chicago television station WBBM, first as a director of community affairs and next as a reporter and editor. He was brought back to the Tribune as a syndicated columnist and member of the editorial board in 1984 and won a Pulitzer Prize for his commentary in 1989. Page wrote frequently on topics of race and African American identity, as well as on a number of other pressing social and political issues, including HIV/AIDS, civil rights, and the Iraq War. Some of his most impassioned essays appeared in his book Showing My Color: Impolite Essays on Race and Identity (1996), in which he argued against the concept of “color-blindness,” emphasizing instead the importance of engaging one’s ethnic heritage. In 2000 Page published the book A Bridge to the New Media Century.