“The Dream”: TWLC’s Viviana Hurtado Talks About Dr. Martin Luther King’s Legacy on NPR’s Tell Me More with Michel Martin

“What does Martin Luther King Jr. mean to you?”

A big, open-ended question/challenge issued by NPR’s Tell Me More with Michel Martin that allows us to reflect on the extraordinary contributions made by the civil and human rights icon that moved us toward a more perfect nation.

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Martin Luther King Jr. Courtesy: The King Center

But it also painfully reminds us that more than half a century after Dr. King paid for daring to speak up against the status quo with his life:

  • the inequality gap is larger than it has been in decades;
  • although Jim Crowe laws or poll taxes are illegal, voting rights are under siege in certain communities as evidenced by a case before the Supreme Court about re-drawn voting maps in Texas by the Republican-controlled state legislature that don’t take into account the demographic growth of the Latino population.

Additionally, immigration reform, arguably the civil rights struggle of this generation, is stalled in Congress.  President Obama is only just beginning to exercise his executive authority over the federal agencies tasked with immigration enforcement, making small but significant changes to keep non-violent illegal immigrants residing in the U.S. with their citizen family–only after significant pressure from the Latino community.

While Washington is paralyzed, in parts of the country, the witch hunt for illegal immigrants has gutted neighborhoods, destroyed families, shuttered business, left crops and U.S. citizen students’ brains to rot because parents are afraid to send their kids to school in case immigration status is checked.  People who look undocumented, including U.S. citizens are being profiled, detained, and in some extreme cases, deported.

None of this has happened or likely will happen to me.

But: There by the grace of God go I.

What if I had been born, not with alabaster-colored skin of my European and criollo ancestors, but with the darker shades of indigenous or African roots tangled in my family tree?  What if I didn’t speak, if not the Queen’s English, a close second, that smooth, confident accent perfected at Yale and the other private schools financed by my parents, all but hawking their shoes to pay cash for their kids tuition when the scholarship money was cut?

Martin Luther King Jr.–and the millions of nameless, faceless brave men and women before and after him–stood up, so I can stand tall and reach for the stars.

Yet his dream, our dream is incomplete.

It lives on, if each of us speaks up for it.

Nurtures it.

Protects it.

Fights for it.

Click below to listen to NPR‘s Michel Martin who invited me, along with Kai Wright of Colorlines.com, civil rights attorney Arsalan Iftikhar, author of Islamic Pacifism: Global Muslims in the Post-Osama Era, and R. Clarke Cooper of the Log Cabin Republicans, an organization for gay members of the GOP to her show Tell Me More to discuss Dr. King’s legacy and dream.

To hear more hot topics on TMM‘s “Beauty Shop” where Viviana is a regular weekly contributor with Michel, plus smart and sassy ladies, click here.

Reflecting on Dr. King’s legacy, what do think has been accomplished, what’s left?

 

Comments

  1. Lucy says

    Personally, I think The Dream speech is one of the most moving and powerful pieces of prose ever written. If we all took his words to heart, the world would be an infinitely better place. I agree, Viviana, when you urge us to nurture, protect, and fight to keep The Dream alive. Seeing Martin Luther King, his words, his actions, and his accomplishments as a history lesson is paramount to condemning his ideas to die. When need to keep the movement alive, keep striving toward true equality and democracy. And I know we can achieve the dream because I’ve witnessed it. I live a beautiful little bubble, you see, which is not to say that I live in a world without prejudice and inequality. I do, however, work in a very lovely school, just north of Toronto, which I strongly believe is as close to Dr. King’s dream as we can achieve on earth. Unlike many neighborhoods, no one ethnic group or economic status dominates the school. We have children from Africa, Haiti, the Philippines, India, Sri Lanka, Colombia, Venezuela, Equador, China, Korea, Vietnam, Greece, Italy, Romania, Poland, Russia, Iran, Iraq, Turkey…well, you get the picture (we even, somehow, ended up with a kid from Texas?!). Almost everyone speaks 2 or more languages, some have accents, some don’t. Some can afford trendy clothes, others can’t. But none of this stops them from intermixing, and getting along, and focusing on their similarities instead of their differences, and genuinely caring about one another. They are the dream. They exist in a world that judges them by the strength of their character, and nothing else. It gives me hope for the future, knowing these children will go forward with this perspective ingrained during childhood, this knowledge that we are all equal in our humanity. It is teeny, tiny little step, from a teeny tiny little place that’s not even on the radar, but I know Martin Luther King is here with us, and he’s really proud.

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