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APU Editor's Pick Original

In Celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King

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By Dr. Marie Gould Harper
Dean, Wallace E. Boston School of Business

As we prepare to celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, I have bittersweet moments. I wonder how his family, especially his children, feel at this time. Their father gave his life to have a better America where there was unity rather than division.

Dr. King was assassinated by someone full of hatred for the cause and the man leading it. Based on the political events that occurred last week, I wonder how far have we really come?

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Did Dr. King Die in Vain?

As I look at the state of our United States over the past decade, I see a country that is more divided than united. We are about to celebrate Dr. King’s birthday little more than a week after one of the most divisive events ever on American soil.

On January 6, we watched a horrendous event on Capitol Hill that provided a visual image of America’s current state. We saw a mob of citizens show that they would break the law to prove their point. We saw individuals who were willing to kill fellow Americans who did not agree with them. We have reverted to a dark time indeed.

What Can We Do?

I would argue that we are far from perfect, but I still have hope that we can turn around our current sad situation. I reread Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream Speech” and realized we are still experiencing the same problems that we had during his lifetime.

Over the years, we have fallen back into the status quo ante. Until recent events, Americans believed that we had arrived at a better place and that the “isms” no longer existed. Sometimes, you have to live through an event to fully appreciate what is happening around us.

It is time for us to reawaken again and continue our efforts to see Dr. King’s dream manifest. There is hope in our youth, young people who are tired of the status quo and do not share some of their parents’ and grandparents’ old shibboleths.

However, we still need to encourage them that they are the future generation and they can make changes that will transform the country. They still have to believe they can make a difference. They will not bow down to the anger and hatred that has engulfed us.

As we celebrate Dr. King, let us recommit ourselves to his dream!

Dr. Marie Gould Harper is the Dean of the School of Business at American Public University. She holds an undergraduate degree in psychology from Wellesley College, a master’s degree in instructional systems from Pennsylvania State University and a doctorate in business from Capella University. She is a progressive coach, facilitator, writer, strategist, and human resources/organizational development professional with more than 30 years of experience.

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