OUR VIEW: Progress made in MLK’s dream, but work remains

As many of you settle into a Wednesday which feels like a Tuesday, Monday’s celebration of Martin Luther King Day should still be fresh in your minds.

And the 2015 version of this long-standing commemorance for a man who stood in the face of status quo – however, peacefully – may have come at just the right time.

In the wake recent events in Ferguson, Missouri and Staten Island, New York, those with opinions on both sides can learn a thing or two from one of the men who shaped our society as we know it today.

Many in support of those protests fail to embody King’s message of peace. Shocking videos of looting, fires and destruction were broadcast live on national television from Ferguson, as well as the retribution killing of two NYPD officers, are still making national headlines. Regardless of the reasons for protest, and even if they were causes King would have taken up as his own had they happened during his lifetime, the violent nature of the offenses would have offended the great visionary.

King proved that the educated spoken word can change the world better than a brick or a match or a gun ever could.

And for those who contributed to unruly protests weeks ago, we at The Times hope Martin Luther King Day was one of reflection and regret – not a vehicle to defend their vengeful actions. King would certainly despise the fact that those who committed those crimes did so in his name.

Likewise, there are still many on the opposite side of the argument who don’t respect the protestors. All protestors, that is – even the many peaceful ones that happened nationwide. Using the fact that the most prolific protest was a violent one as an easy cover to not respecting the basis of the protest, many racially-charged and violent comments have been made by those on the other side of the fence.

This is not to defend the crimes committed by protestors, however it’s also difficult to defend the opinion that those committing the crimes should have been shot and killed by police on the spot – a sentiment one The Times reporter has heard from multiple members of the bayou region community.

This reaction represents a step back for the progressiveness and racial tolerance of our society – or more accurately – a misreported distance of our step forward. There’s no doubt that there’s a greater number of those condemning the actions of the protestors and not the skin color and background of them than there would have been 10, 20 and especially 30 and 40 years ago.

And for that we should thank King, along with many others, while also acknowledging that the battle has not been won yet as we chase a true world free of the things that Dr. King attempted to take away from our country.

Freedom of speech from political oppression is one of the many things that makes America great, and learning to accept others’ beliefs without rejecting them as people is a battle with progressing conquests in America. It’s one we will win one day, despite ignorant and illegal comments and actions by those on both sides of the recent turmoil.

We showed the bayou region could do it with small, safe gatherings following the killing of Cameron Tillman by a Houma Police officer.

And hopefully our nation can protest again and again and again – peacefully.

So thank you Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. for showing us that love – not hate – can indeed change the world, and one day, we will fully fulfill your vision.