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America continues to fight for King's dream

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream," delivered in 1963 at the March on Washington, pleads for social equality. (photo/telegraph.co.uk)

More than 200,000 Americans gathered in Washington, D.C. for a political rally on Aug. 28, 1963. This act of protest, known as the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, was organized by a number of civil rights and religious groups to shed light on the political and social challenges African-Americans faced throughout the country.

This march became a key moment in the fight for equality in the United States and featured Martin Luther King Jr.’s eloquent “I Have a Dream” speech.

More than 50 years later, Americans continue to speak out against social inequality as over one million Americans met at the nation’s capital on Jan. 21, 2017, to make their voices be heard in the Women’s March on Washington.

The entire crowd was excited and happy to be there. Everyone was polite and just standing up for what we felt was right,” said Lisa Robeson, chair of Ohio Northern University’s Department of English, who attended the March with her sister and brother-in-law. “This was one of the defining events of our century. I had no idea what it was going to be like, but I’m so glad I went,” she said.

Robeson wore a pink hat that spelled out the final words of the Pledge of Allegiance: “Liberty and Justice for All.”

Ultimately, the central question is: Will America ever realize the equality that King highlighted in his famous speech? That was the topic of the Office of Multicultural Development’s January Cultural Conversation Hour on Jan. 24. Students discussed a variety of inequalities, including racial discrimination, economic differences between races and gender, sexual differences, and finally, women’s rights and privileges.

Racism is still happening all over the country. We read about it every day, but we don’t always know what to do about it,” said senior social studies major Ryan Oberlin.

Office of Multicultural Development Director LaShonda Gurley had the perfect answer for him: “Be educated. Educate yourself about these issues. If you’re in a position of influence and power, think about how you can affect others.”

There was a considerable examination of the wage differences between African-American males and white men, as compared to African-American women and white women. These statistics led to a much larger discussion on women’s inequality. How can women defend themselves in the growing divide between genders?

Many students agreed that one area where women can make a difference is in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) careers. Proving their supremacy in these male-dominated professions allows women to become equal participants in the work environment.

International Services Coordinator Omega Hollies asked the men in the room, “Do you have sisters? Do you have a girlfriend? Would you want your sister or girlfriend to be treated poorly because of her gender? How should you behave? What can you do today to ensure equality?”

Oberlin spoke up and said, “We can stop making sexist and racist comments. Think about how others want to be treated.”

Issues arrive in waves that often overwhelm Americans and affect large groups of people. The first step is to consider others and participate in conversations, like the monthly Cultural Conversation Hour sessions, to become educated on issues that will impact our nation.