Still far to go to achieve King's dream
BY MIKE JONES Associate Editor
Sunday, January 15, 2012
1/15/12 at 2:34 AM
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
Martin Luther King Jr.
Letter From a Birmingham Jail
If Martin Luther King Jr. had not
been struck down by an assassin’s
bullet in Memphis in 1968 he would
be celebrating his 83rd birthday
Sunday. That brings up the fascinating
idea of what King might be
involved in if he had lived and what
he might think of today’s world.
Tuesday morning, I, along with
some like-minded people, tackled
that elusive task in a roundtable discussion
in the new Center for Creativity
at the downtown campus of
Tulsa Community College. It was
recorded for a TV production to be
aired Monday (Martin Luther King
Day) at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. on Channel
Joining in the discussion were
Rep. Jabar Shumate, D-Tulsa; Dr.
Pauline Harris, human rights coordinator
for the Tulsa Public
Schools; Rev. Leonard Busch, senior
pastorate for Good Shepherd
Lutheran Church; Rev. John Pena,
founder of “Preparing the Way,” a
missions organization that helps
South American churches, and Alice
Whitecloud, of the Tulsa Indian
Coalition Against Racism.
This, if the reverends will excuse
the pun, was preaching to the choir.
There was little, if any, dissension
on the panel. Still, there were interesting
ideas placed on the table.
Being on the panel and the supposed
moderator, I couldn’t take
notes. So much of this is going to be
general ideas presented by all participants.
All agreed that if King had lived,
he would have been active not only
in the black community but he
would have likely taken up causes
of other minorities.
The current problems facing the
Hispanic community are the problems
that have faced almost every
ethnic group to enter the country.
States, Alabama being the latest
and it looks as if Kansas will soon
join this unholy cabal, have passed
laws that are not only unconstitutional
but hurtful to immigrants as
well the states themselves.
Alabama has to date passed the
toughest laws concerning illegal
immigration and migrant workers
have fled the state, leaving crops to
wither in the fields.
Immigration is important in a
discussion of King. His defense of
equality applied not simply to the
events that are most known, such as
equal pay for minority workers, the
right to sit anywhere on a bus or in
any restaurant, drink from any water
fountain or use any rest room.
He was a champion for equal education
opportunities and access to
That is pertinent in today’s immigration
discussion. Most of the
laws in the states such as Oklahoma
punish not only the illegal immigrant
but the families, the children.
It was agreed among the panel members
that it is highly likely that King
would have endorsed the Dream Act.
That bipartisan act was first proposed
in 2000 and has been either
ignored or defeated every year since
In a nutshell, the Dream Act would
offer the children of illegal immigrants
a path to citizenship without
the fear of deportation if they meet
set standards. They must graduate
from high school, they must stay out
of trouble and either pursue a college
education or serve two years in
the military to become citizens.
Thousands of high school graduates
are denied any chance to better
themselves each year because
they are afraid that continuing their
education might result in their parents
been discovered and deported.
These are kids who were brought to
the United States with their families
when they were very young. All
speak English and have assimilated
into society. They are as American
as their fellow students. Denying
them an education or a chance to
achieve citizenship is shameful.
States such as Oklahoma, Arizona
and Alabama would deny an entire
body of people the right to an education
and medical care. The reasons
why would have, I believe, appalled
During the panel discussion, the
question was raised concerning
Muslims and the Islam faith. It was
generally agreed that King would
have embraced that issue as well.
He was a man of faith but he also
was inclusive and tolerant. He likely
would have stood beside the American-
Muslims in this country.
Much more was discussed. But
the fact remains that none of us really
knows what King would have
done if he had lived. He did so much
in his short life, including becoming
the youngest person to receive the
Nobel Peace Prize, that expecting
more of him seems almost unfair.
As he once said, he might not have
entered the Promised Land with us,
but he had been to the mountaintop.
Yes, he did make it to the mountaintop.
And he set many people on
a course that brought us to a place
where different groups and people
with different backgrounds could
sit on a panel and discuss topics of
economics, minority issues and, yes,
even racism on public airwaves.
One thing I and I think my fellow
panelists would agree upon is
that if King were here today he also
would remind us that we still have
a long way to go to finally get to the
Promised Land that he saw from the
For his legacy, for his memory, for
his dream we must continue that
Mike Jones, 918-581-8332
Original Print Headline: What would Martin Luther King Jr. do?
Civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. would have turned 83 today. AP file