By Lacretia Davis and Calvin McDaniel

Martin Luther King Day is a holiday that many people celebrate, but what does it really mean? For some, it is just a day off from work. For others, the purpose is to celebrate and commemorate the life of a civil rights leader that risked his life for African Americans all over the country. More than that, the real reason for the holiday is to take time to do a bit of reflection. Reflection about how our country has progressed in regards to diversity, inclusion, and equality for all.

We should ask ourselves a question, “Has our country come to a point of having true social justice?” Social justice can be described as “the fair and proper administration of laws conforming to the natural law that all persons, irrespective of ethnic origin, gender, possessions, race, religion, etc., are to be treated equally and without prejudice.”  Many people would say no, we have not come to a point of true social justice. Yes, our country has come a long way since the end of the Civil Rights Movement. However, institutional disparities still exist. These disparities can be a result of discrimination towards race/ethnicity, gender, social-economic status, ability, sexual identity, etc.

Knowing these disparities exist, what must we do as individuals to rectify this situation? We have a personal responsibility to take steps to improve the issue for those who are less fortunate or that may not have the same means or opportunities as we do.

This means taking the time to give back in some way. It could be something as little as making a donation to some type of community organization or as big as volunteering regularly at an adult education program. Whatever method you chose, this giving back cannot be sporadic and inconsistent.

We must be persistent, relentless, and committed to equality movement. In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, “Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. We must straighten our backs and work for our freedom. A man can’t ride you unless your back is bent.”

Another thing to consider is focusing on youth. It’s pretty difficult to change people who are stuck in their ways. Age doesn’t necessarily mean one must stay stuck, but even a fool would agree that lasting change in society must come through the upcoming generation. Doing things like mentoring young adults, volunteering in local schools, community centers, tutoring programs, etc.

Spartans on and off campus should put forth our best effort to support each other and turn our campus, workplaces, households, churches, and civic organizations into settings where equality has a chance to overcome ignorance, fear, and intolerance. If social justice is not on the minds of those who are so fortunate to have become a part of the Spartan nation,  then we are not really taking full advantage of the power we truly have as a part of such a prestigious group.

We all have a common goal of making it to the top and being successful, so let’s support each other in that, and do our part to go out of our way for those who were born into the power that many of us take for granted. Remember Dr. King’s admonition that “Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable… Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.”

Enjoy your day. May it bring you many chances to embrace the joy right in front of you that comes from choosing to be just as concerned about others as you are about yourself. You may not see the evidence immediately, but one act of kindness, tolerance, and understanding toward another person can change the world!

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Lacretia Davis is Career Services Assistant for MSU Alumni Career Services. She is also a graduate student studying Social Work at MSU. She is anticipating graduation in May of 2013.

Calvin McDaniel is an Alumni Career Services Assistant in the MSUAA and a graduate student in the Human Resource and Labor Relations program at MSU. He has a passion for helping people to reduce conflict, manage change, and grow toward their potential.

 

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