Editorial: How far?
Next Wednesday marks the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, a watershed event in the history of American race relations. Looking back over the last half century, two questions come to mind: How far have we, as a nation, come? And how far have we yet to go?
The goals of the Aug. 28, 1963 march itself were straightforward—among them, passage of meaningful civil rights legislation, an end to school segregation, increased economic opportunities, and an end to discrimination in hiring practices.
Many of those goals have been met. Overt racism and discrimination, thankfully, are things of the past. No longer do we tolerate segregationist laws, legal barriers that would exclude a man or woman from a school, a job or a place of business merely because of the color of his or her skin.
But does that mean that we have truly entered a "post racial" society? Sadly, no. Institutional racism still exists, although in more subtle forms, from New York City’s stop-and-frisk practices that have been found to be a form of racial profiling, to voter ID laws that, under the guise of stamping out voter fraud, have served to discourage minority participation in elections.
Yes, we have come far. But we still have far to go. Perhaps it will take generations for Americans to eradicate the fear that propels bigotry, hatred and prejudice. The dream Martin Luther King Jr. spoke of a half century ago is still alive and well. It is the task of us, our children, and their children, to turn it into reality.