How Far in 44?

We love anniversaries in this country, good, bad or those of infamy.

The dates dance around our minds: December 7; November 22; September 11; July 4.

Today is another one of those dates.

It was 44 years ago today when James Earl Ray took aim and cut down Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as he stood on a motel balcony in Memphis, TN.

There's film footage of U.S. Senator and presidential candidate Robert Kennedy, addressing a crowd and breaking the news to them of Dr. King's assassination. There are audible gasps and cries of anguish heard.

Kennedy himself would be murdered about two months later.

I suppose the anniversary of Dr. King's murder is as good as time as any to ponder: have things gotten any better, really, in this country when it comes to race relations?

Is it mere irony or an indictment on us as a society that April 4 arrives as the nation is still loitering around the water cooler, talking about the February 26 killing of Trayvon Martin?

The Martin case would appear to be a prime example of how little we've come re: how blacks are perceived by non-blacks.

April 4, 1968; Memphis, TN

You don't want to think that we've done little to no evolving since April 4, 1968, but I submit that it would be a tough case for you to make that we have---evolved, that is.

More like spinning our wheels, it seems at times.

Yes, we have a black president. Yes, blacks have ascended to other positions of authority where they hadn't in 1968. That's all well and good.

But are those exceptions rather than the rule?

It's 2012, some 44 years after Dr. King said on the night before his death that "I may not get there with you", and being a young black male wearing a hoodie is no less dangerous than being of color in 1968 and before.

I'm not suggesting that Dr. King died in vain. But nor can I confidently say that his death paved the way for improved race relations.

Can you?


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