Our view: A legacy through the ages

DKS editors

We all know who the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was. We’ve learned about King growing up in our history classes. He was a minister, a Nobel Peace Prize recipient and, of course, everyone knows him for his famous “I Have A Dream” speech.

Today, Kent State is honoring King through a speech by Judge Glenda A. Hatchett. It’s OK that Martin Luther King Jr. Day was last week, and the university is just now celebrating it today, because the benefits great leaders like King gave to us are used every day. Plus, it gives all Kent State students a chance to attend.

For our parents and grandparents who were around during the Civil Rights Movement, his life can symbolize a revolution that was not only a change for individuals, but also a societal transformation. The way people were treated changed forever. For people born after King’s time, his life is a tremendous history lesson.

As college students, most of us were not around during a major social movement. It is easier to say how horrible people were treated and much more difficult to actually imagine the hardships minorities faced.

With the help from great leaders like King, we now have the ability to make a change. We share our place in history with people who experienced oppression firsthand. We’ve heard upsetting stories from our parents and grandparents about the “old times.” Despite your background, you can relate to such things. Though we did not share the experiences with our ancestors, we can understand what happened to them through their stories and be thankful for what we have today.

As we start off a new decade and time separates us further from our nation’s history, we’ll only have those stories to cling to, reminding us of our past. We can thank King for the characteristics we see in all generations, even the younger generations. Instead of growing up thinking they can do anything, they will grow up knowing they can do anything.

As we all grow up, we will continue to learn about great leaders, but it will be just that — a lesson. We now have the ability to honor King’s hard work every day, not just on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

We are lucky enough to close the book that was once King’s reality and step outside into a brand new day. This certainly does not suggest our nation is perfect now, or ever will be, but conditions will continue to evolve.

Because he had a dream then, we all can dream now.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.