‘Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor’ – MLK

The story of black history is one of constant struggles and triumphs against discrimination. The brave men and women that tirelessly worked to eradicate prejudice in this country are some of America’s greatest heroes.

As a fellow American, I view black history as my history. Without the efforts and advances made by the black community, the U.S. would not be anything like it is now. The Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s is pivotal when studying how other minorities have also risen out of oppression and discrimination.

Growing up, I remember learning about the actions taken by Rev. Martin Luther King Jr and the oppression and hatred he faced. I swelled with American pride when I learned of his march in elementary school and memorized his “I Have a Dream Speech” for my American history class in high school.

As I watched videos of the speech and read the words over and over, the message began to take a different form. He was talking to me; he was giving me hope that things will get better, everything will get better.

Now, as an adult with some extra research done on Rev. King Jr, I find him to be a continuing source of inspiration. Interviews with Coretta Scott King have shed light on the kind of man he was. He did not only want for blacks to be free of discrimination. He wanted all minorities included.

In fact, the Civil Rights Movement was meant to be an all-inclusive movement. Black, Hispanic, gay, or transgender, Mrs. King has been quoted saying Rev. King Jr wanted everyone to be discrimination free.

To me, black history is celebrated everyday. You cannot look around without seeing the fruits of labor planted by Civil Rights activists. Yet the work is not over. Discrimination is nothing new and, sadly, will continue to plague the world.

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” wrote Mr. King Jr in “Letter from Birmingham Jail.” It may be a little overused, but I feel like this quote has as much relevance as when it was first written in the cramp Alabama jail cell.

I’ll admit, I am not as abreast in Hispanic history as I should be and it has been a personal resolution of mine to start becoming better acquainted with my own heritage as a Cuban-American.

With Rev. King Jr’s words, I have made it my personal mission to never express intolerance. Everybody is important and deserves the same rights as the next person. There is no room for discrimination in today’s society and the best way to end it is to make that first step and end it in your own mind and body.