A Hero for Equality
by Valerie Rosario, Beacon ’18
Martin Luther King Jr., the rebel, the warrior, and the hero, has inspired America to find their voices. Fighting for our rights, he opened doors and motivated kids like me to do the same. In 1963 when Dr. King gave his “I Have a Dream” speech the world began to finally believe that racial equality was possible. Now fifty-five years later, he has inspired us to fight for equality with regard to gender, sexuality, religion, and—still– race. As a young Latina, the life I have now is owed to Dr. King and his ambitions.
I thank MLK for taking the first step in our fight towards equality. Although we have come a long way since the Jim Crow Laws, this nation is still not “Justice for all.” The US is no longer the land of opportunity; instead it has become a place where immigrants are belittled. My mother was a college professor at the Pontificia Universidad Católica Madre y Maestra, one of the best universities in the Dominican Republic; here I have had to observe as she is taken advantage of because of her lack of English. I have had to observe how managers are on the lookout when my dad enters a jewelry store. I have grown up observing the inequality in America.
But I am no longer an observer. Now I speak up about gender issues, undocumented immigrants being referred to as “illegal,” racial discrimination, and, most importantly, the lack of unity as a nation.
Two years after the “I Have a Dream” speech, MLK said, “Our lives begin to end the day that we become silent about the things that matter.” I believe that immigrants, Muslims, gays, Jews, and all minorities matter. Dr. King found courage and strength to break the silence that held minorities captive. Progress in this nation is impossible without unity. And unity is not possible if we don’t have equality. It is up to the youth to actually make America great. It is our turn to speak up.