NEW ORLEANS — On a day dedicated to the life, work and legacy of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. we often hear portions of the dream from he shared August 28, 1963.
“..little black boys and little black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers…” said Dr. King in the speech.
Then, there is the reality of January 6th, 2021 with the image of the Confederate flag in the halls of Congress instilled fear and anger for a segment of the country, but it’s hard to deny that a portion of America felt pride.
“There is a divide in this country, in terms of race. If we think we came a long way, maybe we haven’t. Maybe it was just hidden and maybe what we thought was happening was just hidden behind the scenes, but everything has just kind of come out in the forefront,” said Dr. Ashraf Esmail.
Doctor Ashraf Esmail is the director of Dillard University’s Center for Racial Justice which was established after the police killing of George Floyd last year.
Instead of an eloquent dream of white and black children holding hands, the recent summer of racial justice called on the country to at the very least, say the names of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and others.
“You can talk about Black Lives Matter, but really the bottom line goes back to inequality and poverty. When you look at the divide, a lot of people feel like they don’t have equal representation,” said Dr. Esmail.
Dr. Esmail says that feeling can also be found among poor and low-income whites.
“Nationally, people feel we’re regressing, and that’s both African Americans and whites. They feel like we’re going in the wrong direction in terms of race relations,” said Dr. Esmail.
When President Obama took office, some hoped for a post-racial America. Others then believed President Trump would make America great again. Now, president-elect Joe Biden is calling for the healing of the nation. Decades after Dr. King’s famous the country still wrestles with the issue of race, and the work to realize his dream continues.