Americans of every age have been encouraged by the speech Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered over 50 years ago. The resolve in that speech still resonates with people from all over the nation, creating a yearning for racial equality. In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, we are going to share stories of unity that are happening now and how his dream continues to live.
Wilcox County High School Finally Becomes Integrated
After four decades of separate proms, the students of Wilcox County High School finally got to go to an integrated dance. In Wilcox County, Georgia, a town known for doing things as they’ve always done, a brave high school student challenged the town’s social norm.
The high school has never hosted a prom for their students, instead of private committees of students, parents and other townspeople get together to plan proms. Until 2013, for 40 years, there have always been two separate proms: one designated for black students and another designated for white students.
Mareshia Rucker was a high school senior who wanted to spend her last prom with all of her friends, so she reached out to the media to help start this conversation in her hometown. Read the full story of how she successfully pulled a town together for a uniting cause here.
Peaceful March for Justice and Racial Equality
At the short press conference leading up to the march, three pastors from three different churches spoke to the public. The speakers explained the importance of peaceful demonstrations and the need to work as a community to stop racial barriers. Read the full story about the peaceful protest of more than 100 marchers here.
A Professor Leads Efforts in Mississippi to Encourage Social Justice
Dr. Susan Glisson is the executive director of The University of Mississippi’s William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation. Glisson headed a successful effort to pass the nation’s first state law to require the teaching of civil rights and human rights history in Mississippi public schools.
In 2002 she helped The University of Mississippi organize events to mark the 40th anniversary of the entry of its first black student, James Meredith, whose enrolment sparked deadly riots. Read more about Glisson’s mission for social justice here
The Right of Equal Treatment to Asian-Americans in Admission Process
Michael Wang, a talented and dynamic student, had a dream to one day study in prestigious institutes like Harvard, Yale, Stanford, and Princeton. Despite having all the necessary qualifications and excellent scores, Wang was rejected for being Asian. Proud of his ethnicity, Wang decided to stand against the discriminating behavior of higher educational institutes in the admission process.
He began discussing and talking about how Americans and white students are given preference at the educational level, to people, activists, press and law advisors. He wrote an article in July 2014 for the San Jose Mercury News regarding the anger Asian-Americans had over the discriminative behavior of colleges. The issue gained momentum and this new civil rights struggle was joined by more than 60 communities.
With help of Edward Blum, Abigail Fisher, and strong support from other communities, Wang filed a federal lawsuit against Harvard University in November 2014. They also formed an organization, Students for Fair Admissions for students with similar stories. The organization sued the educational institutes that have discriminated in admission processes on behalf of its members.
Wang specifically stated that it’s not just about him getting admission in Harvard, but that he wants to open the gates for future students who have the right to be treated equally.
Sensing the seriousness and gravity of the issue, Harvard released an official statement in which it clarifies that it does not discriminate and seek educational benefits from a diversified class where peers learn from a wide variety of talents, perspectives, and academic interests.
However, the action changed the scenario to a large extent and institutes are careful to comply with federal laws. Read the full story here.