Friday, November 28, 2014

Ottawa’s work remains on achieving King’s dream

8/26/2013

This week marks the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s inspiring “I Have a Dream” speech. That speech was a major part of America’s civil rights movement and the eventual improvement in quality of life for minorities in the United States. Kansas always has been more progressive than our southern brethren in this regard, but we still aren’t yet where we need to be.

 Sports, as spotlighted in “42,” a new movie about Jackie Robinson, is one of the notable arenas that took down the color barrier. Robinson was challenged to not fight back while playing baseball for the Brooklyn Dodgers, even though he was jeered and ridiculed. Sports, alongside music and the arts, have been areas where whites gradually accepted blacks into society. That situation is no different locally.

This week marks the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s inspiring “I Have a Dream” speech. That speech was a major part of America’s civil rights movement and the eventual improvement in quality of life for minorities in the United States. Kansas always has been more progressive than our southern brethren in this regard, but we still aren’t yet where we need to be.

 Sports, as spotlighted in “42,” a new movie about Jackie Robinson, is one of the notable arenas that took down the color barrier. Robinson was challenged to not fight back while playing baseball for the Brooklyn Dodgers, even though he was jeered and ridiculed. Sports, alongside music and the arts, have been areas where whites gradually accepted blacks into society. That situation is no different locally.

This week marks the start of the 2013-2014 school year at Ottawa University, as well as the commencement of the football season. About 23 percent of OU’s football team is black, which helps to bring about what little racial diversity exists within Franklin County. That diversity makes our community better and stronger.

Much of the progress being made on improved race relations is through our youth who, for the most part, are colorblind. Adults, though, might be another matter. What are our adults doing to make those black players, as well as all the other OU students, feel welcome in town? Hopefully not letting it seem out-of-the ordinary when they frequent our businesses around the area.

One of the first things we can do is to make all OU students feel welcome, wanted and a part of the community: that they are judged only by the content of their character and not the color of their skin, just as King advocated 50 years ago. We’ve come a long way, but we always can do better.

It’s an important dream that must not die since work remains to be done.

 

— Jeanny Sharp,

editor and publisher

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