More than 40 years after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. the first African American elected to the office of president, Barack Obama, will be inaugurated the day after the Martin Luther King holiday.This would not have been possible without the efforts of King and many others, but it has finally become a reality.
In 1968, when King was murdered in Memphis, Tennessee, our country experienced a situation similar to the one we do today.
In reaction to the draft, a youth counterculture emerged and began to speak out violently against the Vietnam War.
Race riots were breaking out in major U.S. cities.
Amid this chaos, a few leaders found ways to empower great masses of people to question the direction the country was going and demand immediate change.
Leading the cry for equal rights through peaceful protest, Martin Luther King Jr., a Baptist minister from Alabama, proclaimed that his dream of equality was larger than any one man or woman.
All this and it was an election year.
Robert F. Kennedy, a democratic candidate for president, ran under the idea that a great need for improvement of social issues existed in America.
Opposed to the war in Vietnam and a strong advocate of desegregation, Kennedy became a popular candidate for president.
However, moments after achieving victory in the California primary, his idealistic campaign was cut short in the kitchen of the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles by a gunman.
Only a few months ago, the nation was in the midst of one of the most trying and explosive presidential elections in history.
Heated debates were taking place in communities all over the country causing intense political divides between red and blue.
But across America a nightmare was unfolding.
Poisoned mortgages were forcing foreclosures in every state, an all too common occurrence we are still facing today.
The country was becoming increasingly polarized and people began drawing lines in the sand as their frustration rose.
Then many were forced to watch as their retirement accounts, for which they had worked hard and cautiously invested their life savings into “reliable” and “controlled” long-term investment accounts, dwindled down to nearly nothing.
For each side of every issue only one answer became acceptable, anything else blasphemy.
On Nov. 4, 2008, the election took place and the U.S. had another first.
In the comparatively short history of the United States, we have taken on a global leadership role and have proactively responded to problems throughout the world without restraint.
We break the bonds of old only to discover new ones waiting for us underneath, so now is the time to create new solutions to new obstacles and maintain the identity of the United States.
A chant from a demonstration in Chicago, Illinois in 1968 seems strangely fitting “The whole world is watching” and they will be.