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Half a century after Martin Luther King’s death, we have made progress but not reached the promised land | The Independent

Half a century after Martin Luther King’s death, we have made progress but not reached the promised landIn the world dreamt of by King there would be no need for the Black Lives Matter movement, because the ingrained racism that incubates such attitudes and such violence would have been eradicated

Had he lived, Martin Luther King would now be an elder statesman of American politics, having given further service to his country through continued moral leadership and probably through holding high office.

Today, aged 89, not an impossible age, he would doubtless remain the magisterial voice of tolerance and reason he was before his assassination half a century ago.

It is not true that America needs such an influence on its national life more than ever, because King was needed more than ever when America stood on the brink in the 1960s. Since he led the struggle for human rights in those years, much obvious and genuine progress has been achieved, even if it is sometimes taken for granted.

Before the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act were passed by 1965, the position of black Americans in the South and even some northern industrial cities resembled the apartheid society of South Africa. Formal and petty discrimination was found in areas such as public transport until Rosa Parks and others decided that they were not going to be forced to sit at the back of the bus. Bars, clubs and even drinking fountains were rigidly racially segregated. Gerrymandering and restrictive franchise rules effectively guaranteed minimal black representation at local, state and federal levels. The Supreme Court, until the 1950s, upheld the pernicious doctrine of “separate but equal”.

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Sorgente: Half a century after Martin Luther King’s death, we have made progress but not reached the promised land | The Independent

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