Here are a few facts:
In 1871, the city of Toledo desegregated all of its public schools. At the time, Toledo was the only major city in northern Ohio with integrated schools.
Our beloved university, the University of Toledo, opened just one year later in 1872.
In 1884, the state of Ohio passed the public accommodations law, prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race in all public buildings.
In 1958, Dr. Lancelot Thompson (the Student Union namesake) was hired as the first black professor at UT.
These are phenomenal attributes for our state and our school that we can all be proud of! Trailblazers. Trendsetters. Rockets.
The reason I am telling you about these dates, places and professor is because all of these events occurred during a time of extreme racial conflict. In each instance (in order for the desired result to be successful), someone in position of power would have to speak for those in a position of oppression.
Cut to 2019 and things are different and improved – but different.
Who would have thought, that taking a knee in a silent non-violent protest regarding police brutality would be so polarizing to the country?
Who would have thought that the Supreme Court would rule in favor of a bakery not wanting to make a cake for patrons because of their sexual preferences?
Can you believe that it’s a real issue about who can use which bathroom and why?
Today, in January of 2019, the government of the most inclusive, richest, most developed nation on planet Earth is at a standstill. Federal workers are not being compensated, and the most basic functions of government such as security, food regulations and financial oversight are being neglected because of a “wall” on our southern border to keep people from entering the country illegally.
More shocking may be that the wall is actually supported by 40 percent of the country, according to Pew Research Center. Our current executive branch of government has more than 160 investigations pending. Yes, everyone, this is the United States, the greatest country of them all, the crème de la crème.
This month, we remember the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Do you know why?
Sure, he participated in some marches, and he made some good speeches, but more than just a well-deserved day off, why do we care about him, or his contribution to humanity 51 years after his death?
Dr. King was a leader. When called upon from other leaders of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, he accepted the role and performed on behalf of others less fortunate than he was.
From the labor unions and racial discrimination and the SCLC organizing the Poor People’s Campaign, he always put his service above himself.
He supported diversity, working with black, white, Hispanic, Asian and Native American groups that needed his organization’s assistance. As a pastor, he was well versed in conflict resolution, opting to be a non-violent force of protest.
Dr. King spoke for all people and was often threatened, beaten, jailed and even attacked by other black leaders of the time.
In 1964, he became the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, and it is said that Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1968 as a tribute to his long-term commitment to community. A true great man indeed.
I wonder, however, what Dr. King would say about the climate of the United States today. Would he be disappointed? Would he organize a march or a series of marches for all the groups that feel disenfranchised and under-represented today?
Or, would he create a really long social media post (IN ALL CAPS of course)? Would he take a selfie in front of all of the people at the march that he organized? What would want you want him to do? Moreover, how do you plan to commemorate his legacy this year?
Anthony Taylor is a fourth-year history major.