The fight isn’t over

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” – MLK

It was this quote I came across while, ironically, writing a feature. It was a quote that made me stop for a second and think about our world today. I knew in my head that there were still battles being fought for rights, but I also realized I hadn’t ever taken the time to see and understand where we really were.

It also wasn’t until interviewing for my feature when my mind really became intrigued with spending more time contemplating where we are in terms of all different kinds of equalities. 

I looked into how far we have come, where we are now, and just how much further we still have to go. I guess I had never really taken enough time to study equality in our nation.

In school, we are taught about Martin Luther King Jr. and how his stand left an everlasting legacy and took us several steps forward in terms of civil rights. However, what isn’t brought up when we learn about MLK and the Civil Rights Movement is where our nation stands now in time.

With no comparison provided in school, I never took the time to explore equality today. I basically just took in what I was taught about the Civil Rights Act and Movement and the legacy of MLK and moved on. I didn’t know at the time how far we still have left to go in terms of civil rights and equality; I just figured that MLK and his accomplishments, as well as the Civil Rights Act of 1964, had worked to solve our nation’s problems. I didn’t think further to wonder if all the problems MLK was trying to solve were forever dissolved.

However, after just a short time of observing different pieces of our nation’s puzzle, I can conclude that the battle of civil rights and equality is far from over—we still have an arduous battle ahead of us.

In today’s world, we still face issues such as poverty, gender-based pay, income discrimination, political discrimination, and disparities in education.

In light of my recent research, I decided to look deeper into one of the major issues in our nation which had previously piqued my interest: our criminal justice system.

What we don’t know, we can’t change, and with no change comes no steps forward in equality and civil rights. ”

I was first enlightened to our broken criminal justice system through a Netflix series When They See Us, which focuses on the story of the Central Park Five. In short, the Central Park Five envelops the story of Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana, and Korey Wise and the awful miscarriage of justice that they were all faced with. 

Two of the boys were fourteen, two were fifteen, and one was sixteen when they were falsely accused of raping a woman in Central Park due to their skin color. The boys were innocent, but the criminal justice system coerced them into false confessions for crimes they did not commit. In turn, each of the young, innocent boys received sentences that ranged from five to fifteen years for a crime they did not commit.

The Netflix series telling their story really opened my eyes to the fact that this battle for equality is not done being fought. Children in their young teens were forced to plead guilty to crimes they took no part in due to the color of their skin. 

While this was several years ago, it still stands prominent today. Our criminal justice system remains flawed—remains biased. While little steps are being taken to fix it, it isn’t enough. Yet, most people are so uneducated on the criminal justice system and the things that go on within it that it is very difficult to make the big changes that are needed.

Beyond this, I also found that we are still fighting equality and civil rights wars in so many different ways. Gender equality in terms of pay gap still remains a battle being fought, and poverty remains something we struggle with. Police brutality, pregnancy discrimination, LGBTQ hostility, still-existing racism, and racial equality problems. The list is long, the fights not nearly over.

Yet, although I may sound somewhat educated on the topic of civil rights issues today, I have only just begun looking into the problems. That is the biggest issue with these situations; we aren’t always informed of them or the other issues taking place in society. Without mass attention being brought into the eyes of the civil rights problems, there is no way major changes can be made.

Today, I feel like MLK and what he stood for is discussed but not spoken about enough. Especially for students—college and high school, even down to middle school—we aren’t taught enough about civil rights in our world today. What we don’t know, we can’t change, and with no change comes no steps forward in equality and civil rights. 

It’s important we all take the time to recognize how far our country has come, but it is equally as important to acknowledge that we still have a ways to go in order to create a better nation.