MLK’s hope still lives through action

Published 9:07 am Monday, January 24, 2022

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By MICHELLE LOVE | Staff Writer

On Monday, Jan. 17 dozens of residents assembled in Montevallo for a special march and program honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

I recently found something out that quite honestly blew me away. Martin Luther King was born the same year as another legendary human rights figure—Anne Frank.

Yep, Frank and King were both born in 1929, meaning if Frank and her family had not died in a concentration camp in 1945, she would have been the same age King was when he was assassinated (that’s just 39, by the way). Two people who were taken away from this earth far too young because they represented something people hated—diversity.

The Helena City Council held a diversity forum last Tuesday with special guest speakers Dr. Gregory L. Samuels, an associate professor and Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer from the University of Montevallo, and Dr. Amy J. Samuels, an associate professor also from the University of Montevallo.

The forum’s purpose was to provide information that could guide citizens of Helena toward a more accepting and open conversation about diversity.

If the past year has taught us anything, it’s that people don’t want to hear about things outside their own perspective. It’s what makes fake science articles and hate speech that much more dangerous. In a world where anyone can type anything they want and pin it as fact on Facebook, accepting that others have a different experience than you is an automatic no for some people. Why should I do the bare minimum for others when it doesn’t affect me?

At the forum, Samuels explained the importance of diverse voices and the difference between listening and valuing those voices.

Right now, our country is fighting for voting rights. Voting is something I was taught was precious and a right everyone has. All voices should be heard to make our country as great as it can be.

King fought for voting rights for Black women. Black women were not allowed to vote until the passing of the Voting Rights Act in 1965. That’s just 57 years ago.

It’s 2022, and the right to vote is being taken away from many groups of people through voting restrictions across the country, when just over 50 years ago, the right to vote was granted to so many people who desperately fought for it.

It’s 2022, and there are still people who post MLK quotes on MLK day one second and then post a rant about how voting restrictions are no big deal because it doesn’t affect them. People still refuse to acknowledge that their perspective is vastly different than someone else’s and that can be very dangerous for society. When you take away a person’s ability to vote, you take away their voice.

As Samuels said, if you do not value those voices, then your argument weakens.

I’ve said this before, it is very easy in today’s time to become jaded and think that there are no good, honest and caring people left in the world.

Well to that, I remind you that Anne Frank and MLK had another thing in common besides their birth year. Both human beings had the ability to inspire hope for change. While there are still people who care, there will always be hope for change as long as those people take action against what’s wrong.

In his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, Dr. King said, “I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.”

When she was 12 years old hiding in an attic from Nazis, Anne Frank wrote in her diary, “In spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart.”