Efforts urged to achieve full equality
Prejudice remains despite King, Obama
By KEVIN PENTON
Barack Obama's election
Not quite, say Rush and
other African American leaders in the region. They argue that in the
"The world has come so far, but we can't stop just because there is a black man in the White House," said Rush, a former assistant commissioner in the state Department of Education. "The dream has not been fulfilled."
King is often memorialized for wanting people to be judged by their character, not by their skin color. Obama's achievement may help make the dream come true in the long run, Carl F. Jennings said. But in the short run, people should only expect so much change, said the chairman of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Guild of Greater Long Branch.
"The man has only been
in office for a year," said
For decades, African
Americans have held various stepping-stone positions of power in the
"You don't just jump into the White House," said Richardson, who believes it is difficult to overestimate the groundwork that Obama's presidency lays toward achieving King's goals. "(Obama) is not the end. He is the beginning."
In the last years before his death, King increasingly focused his attention on fighting for economic equality, arguing that many communities in the country were systematically kept from access to well-paying jobs, a quality education and equal levels of health care.
By setting the improvement
of the nation's health care system as one of his first policy goals, Obama is
also seeking to better the nation's human rights record, advocating for a type
of change not commonly associated with King,
"For a lot of people,
King begins and ends with his "I Have A Dream' speech,' "
Earl Thomas Teasley, chairman of the Monmouth County Human Relations Commission, also cites Obama's work on health care during his first year in office as a positive contribution toward fulfilling King's legacy.
"This past year has shown that the dream is still alive," Teasley said. "A healthy nation certainly should be an important goal for humanity."
But Teasley cautions that
much work remains to be done before prejudice and inequality in the
"Evening out the playing ground for everyone," Teasley said. "That's what really is going to help us fulfill Dr. King's legacy."