A Commentary:

Stand up for justice:

fulfill King’s dream with results

By Tomi Morris Johnson   ©2004 WingcomLtd. All Rights Reserved.


January 19, 2004, Atlanta, GA…For those of us who care, we face a serious reality check on  MLK’s Dream-o-Meter. We find that in education and economics, Johnny and Sally are not playing Ring-around-the Rosie with José, Tashica, and Ali.


According to a report released by Harvard University, the United States faces a bitter truth – the civil rights clock has turned back to pre-1970. The report, “A multiracial society with segregated schools,” documents what we already know – schools, the primary institutions of our country, serve populations divided by race.


Some schools were less segregated in the late ‘60’s than they are today.  (Photo of writer with classmates in 1967 graduating class.)


As go the schools, so go the neighborhoods, churches, prisons, coffee shops, unemployment lines, parks and corporate boardrooms.


If King were to walk down his old neighborhood streets today, he would see a national landmark in his beloved community, upstaged by a warlord President, surrounded by protestors and homeland security police.


He could run down the avenue and pass by his alma mater, Booker T. Washington High, just as un-air-conditioned and predominately black as he left it, accept for the teaching staff.


He could visit city hall and hear statements made by the African American power elite, a new leadership that only allows a chosen few to participate in politics/wealth.

Lindsey Tippens

Some school boards are more segregated than their schools, as in Cobb County, GA, near

metro Atlanta. The school district’s racial make-up is 72.4% white, 18.8 % black, and 8.9% other.


He could catch disgusted and annoyed looks from gatekeepers when he begs for a job, only to be told that his application will be put on file for months while corporate executives earn millions.


He might land a low wage, temporary position with no benefits and be micro-managed (overseen) by a supervisor half his age and experience level.


He might peek through department store windows and catch politicians on flat-screen TVs, urging the unemployed to use free time volunteering for campaigns that will change America.


He would also rub his eyes at images of Kobe, Michael, and Colin posing as media representations of black manhood. CNN Stressful News would encroach in airport lounges, department stores and eateries.


“All people should be one,” said Marietta Councilman and Rev. Anthony Coleman at the MLK celebration.


He could meander into his birthday celebration, an entertainment-showcase posing as a direct action workshop where politicians sit in the honor section and the masses sit outside the velvet rope.


He could sift through the sidewalk belongings of unemployed workers tossed out of foreclosed homes.


He could visit the prisons, overwhelmingly populated by people of color, where children under age four live with their mothers.


He could travel to the suburbs where homes with the latest gadgets and security systems are for sale but cannot be purchased because of low credit scores and out of balance income to debt ratios.


David Connell, Georgia Power, spoke at an MLK celebration in Cobb County:  “Never stop trying to achieve a perfect world.”


And he would smell the haggard homeless, unable to legally beg for food on city streets, crouching in church doorways while the wind chill hovers near freezing.


King’s 60’s dream has not resulted in an abundance of fairness, opportunity or peace for the majority of people he fought to protect - the poor. If Dr. King were alive to negotiate with power brokers after his walk, he would probably encourage the following direct actions be taken:

·        reduction of high interest rates and adverse banking practices leveled on the poor

·        global, universal health care

·        employment contracts that lead to reduced debts

·        end to US military occupation of other countries

·        use of alternative fuels

·        legal system that affords justice to all, regardless of fortune

·        balanced national and state budgets

·        reduction in the imprisonment of non-violent criminals

·        spiritual reawakening in churches and schools

Poverty and Unemployment Banks profit disproportionately when the unemployed, who have stimulated the economy by buying and borrowing during good times, find themselves in crisis situations after job losses and wage cuts. We are in a depression, yet financial institutions are profiting by borrowing money at prime rate (2%) and charging 24.99% interest to those who cannot pay their bills due to unemployment. Go to bank presidents and demand that they change their rules regarding repayment of debts by the poor. Demand that employers negotiate worker contracts that will take them out of debt.

War and PeaceDr. King was a man of peace who objected to war.  How can one celebrate or commemorate King’s life, smiling while offering flowered wreaths and platitudes, while justifying war and troop engagements all over the world? Protest against war. Raise your voices for peace.

Health CareEven a physician will tell you that medicine is a “non-exact” science. Why, then, does it cost so much to obtain medical treatment, and why are medical charges based on what the doctors, drug companies and hospitals decide you must pay?  Why are so many people sick in our land?  Why is it difficult to get compassionate care or affordable health insurance?  Why is there a shortage of health care professionals?  Encourage school systems to implement curriculums which foster good nutrition and health education beginning in kindergarten. Make sure that “No child is left behind” when it comes to health care education.

School disciplineMany of our classrooms have been turned into holding pens where instruction is not formulated to meet the special needs and aspirations of each student.  This results in classrooms where students face failure, have low self-esteem, and create discipline problems resulting in prescribed drug use and in-school incarcerations (detentions).  Talk to your school administrators and school district superintendents about plans to help students using tough love.  How long will we sit by while our public schools turn into educational systems led by drug referrals?


The information in this article is the opinion of the author and, therefore, should not be construed as libelous.

©2004 WingcomLtd. All Rights Reserved.