Your Turn: 4 Things You Can Do to Honor Martin Luther King in 2018

  • January 5, 2018

By Carlos Galindo-Elvira | Arizona Regional Director

What does Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy mean to us in these challenging times? 

Dr. King exposed the brutality of discriminatory laws and institutionalized racism. He served a greater good. His purpose was to remove the burden of oppression. He reminded us about the importance of "content of character."

As we head toward another day of remembering Dr. King, his own words are most suited for the moment: “We cannot walk alone. And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead.”

4 tangible things you can do

King's work is far from over. Here are things to do in 2018:

1. Work in a bipartisan effort with state legislators to codify a standalone criminal provision for hate crimes. The law should be more inclusive and comprehensive, covering hate crimes based on race, religion, ethnicity and national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity and disability.

The FBI 2016 annual Hate Crime Statistics Act data reports an increase in hate crimes nationwide. In Arizona, 213 hate crimes were reported, with an increase in acts targeted toward religion, Jews, Muslims and sexual orientation. Ask your state legislators to support this crucial change to state law.

2. Support a clean Dream Act – one that gives “dreamers” a path to citizenshipwithout other stipulations attached, such as border-wall funding. It's a moral imperative.

Young immigrants brought to the United States as children are some of America’s brightest individuals. They are teachers, doctors, lawyers. They serve in our military. Deporting them would result in a loss of more than $102 million annually? in growth.

A fight for dreamers is a fight for us. We fight for our state’s future. Call your Congress member and ask for their support in passing this fair and humanitarian legislation.

3. Ask Congress to support the full restoration of the Voting Rights Act.

There’s a difference between the right to vote and the ability to vote. Restrictive developments have threatened and disenfranchised voting rights, disproportionately impacting Latinos, African-Americans, young people and elderly voters.

4. Shrink the space for extremists to grow and thrive.

White supremacists, emboldened by the 2016 elections and the current political climate, are engaged in an unprecedented outreach to recruit students on American college campuses. It’s already happened at some Arizona college campuses. During the start of the fall semester, white supremacists placed flyers promoting their hateful message on the ASU campus.

We cannot find this acceptable. When the soul of our nation is at stake, there can be no equivocation about white supremacists and neo-Nazis and their agendas. If you see something, say something.

This can take the form of reporting a discriminatory incident to ADL, reporting hate speech to the major online companies or by contacting law enforcement.

Attend a meeting, make a call. It helps

The road to recognizing Dr. King’s work was not an easy one for Arizona – it was filled with political bumps, rigid opposition and two times at the ballot box. Arizona voters approved the measure in 1992, making our state the only one to both vote on and approve this holiday.

ADL in Arizona will continue furthering the work of Dr. King and advancing our mission through our No Place For Hate initiative, which aims to create schools free of bias, bullying and bigotry. We are partnering with law enforcement for training on hate-crime identification, response and reporting. We are responding to hate crimes and incidents, and we are speaking out on behalf of marginalized and vulnerable communities.

All of us can play a role by attending meetings or marches, making calls and/or sending emails. All roles help, and all are welcomed, in the cause for racial equality and justice.

We have to make the pledge to stand up and march ahead.