January 18, 2021
MLK Day: The Dream Lives On
Jessica Cuevas, Ilexus Williams, and Quinn Kobrin shared their reactions to being at the Lorraine Motel on MLK Day, 2021.
On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, we visited the grounds of the Lorraine Motel,
…now a National Civil Rights Museum, where MLK was assassinated.
For me, this was such a surreal experience because I never would have dreamed to be in Memphis, Tennessee, at the exact location where MLK was assassinated, especially on this day.
This is something that we simply learn about in our history classes, but we never stop to think that one day we will get the chance to see the motel and stand in such a historical spot, which is very much still standing after all these years.
I am very thankful for having been extended the opportunity to come on this trip and being able to experience and take in the historical significance of these sites. Being where I was today was a lot to take in; it was so very memorable and bittersweet, so much so that I am still wrapping my head around the fact that I was actually there. I, a girl who had never been outside of Texas before the 12th of January, had traveled through five states, tried new foods, and now, was standing in this place.
It pains me that despite our having come a long way since MLK’s famous “I Have A Dream” speech, some people to this day are still judged by their skin color instead of their character, as we have witnessed in recent times.
Martin Luther King, Jr. is truly a beacon for equality and an idol who has encouraged and motivated others such as Cesar Chavez to fight for fair and decent treatment, and to do so in a peaceful manner.
In 1963, just 58 years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King gave his “I have a Dream” speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. “We have come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now!” This statement by Dr. King still rings true for our society today, especially in light of standing up against police brutality and racial inequality.
In this portion of the “I have a Dream” speech, Dr. King is strongly encouraging us not to become accustomed to taking idle or leisure plans of action to achieve social equality in our society. Instead, we must confront issues in our society with tact, focus, and vision. Dr. King set a prime example of the expectations of a servant leader.
King was purpose-driven, devoted to the growth of people, and focused on forming unity. The bar is set high, and I will strive to follow the path of perseverance and courage that Martin Luther King Jr. has paved for so many. It was an honor to give reverence to his life and fight for democracy on a day that is forever dedicated to MLK.
Visiting the spot of MLK’s assassination on the day we celebrate his life was a powerful experience for us all. This is true, I would argue, due both to the awesome nature of King’s contribution to the fight for equality and due to the horrific reality of how he died.
As my peers and classmates have noted, there is a massive difference between reading about a historical figure in class and truly taking the time to understand who that leader was and what they stood for, which is precisely what this trip is all about.
I have not known what it is like to be judged for the color of my skin, to be ostracized simply for my appearance or heritage. For this reason, I have often felt as though I were a tourist in the fight for civil rights and social equality.
However, this trip, like Dr. King’s well-known speech, reminds me that the fight for equality is not solely the fight of the oppressors versus the oppressed. “We cannot walk alone,” said King. “And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back.” It takes each and every member of society to stand up and unify against hatred and ignorance. It is not the fight of one people but of all people. For, as George Bernard Shaw once wrote, “The worst sin toward our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them: that’s the essence of inhumanity.”
Traveling to each of these historic sites in our tour of the south has taught me a great deal, but if nothing else, it has reminded me that standing for justice and equality is not just an option; it is a responsibility. And I know there is nothing more I can do than continue to learn, and battle hatred and ignorance with compassion and education. Equipped with these tools, and the fraternity of all who believe that all people are created equal, we will not turn back; we can only march ahead.