I have a dream...
"I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character." -Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
“I have a dream that we could all understand the concept of intersectionality and how it plays into the lives and experiences of not only people of color but of white people as well.” -Demetrius Evans, Peer Diversity Educator & student at UW-Eau Claire
"I have a dream that even though we all come with all of our own prejudices and biases, that we can work through those within ourselves and treat people as they should be treated and as we want to be treated." -Dr. Jesse Dixon, director of Office of Multicultural Affairs at UW-Eau Claire
"I have a dream that my country will come together in unity and will stop insulting each other when we disgaree." Dr. Selika Ducksworth-Lawton, History professor at UW-Eau Claire
EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- It was 50 years ago Wednesday, four words defined a moment in the civil rights movement and changed the face of history forever.
On August 28th, 1963 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his iconic "I Have a Dream" speech on the steps of the Lincoln memorial. But five decades later, has his dream of equality come true? Some people say it’s not so black and white and the march continues forward.
President Barack Obama delivered a speech during a ceremony Wednesday, speaking from the very spot where Dr. King shared his vision.
"Because they marched city councils changed and state legislatures changed and Congress changed and yes, eventually the White House changed,” said Obama.
Although 50 years ago, a black president would have been unimaginable to some, Dr. Selika Ducksworth-Lawton, a history professor at the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire, said King’s dream has yet to be fulfilled completely.
“Martin Luther King's dream was not just for a black president, it was for everyone to have access to good jobs, for everyone to have access to a good education, for all of us to come together regardless of race, regardless of gender, to work for the benefit of the country,” said Lawton.
Dr. Jesse Dixon is the director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs at UW-Eau Claire. He said while some goals have been met, there are still too many issues that need to be worked on.
“There’s a large number of people who are absolutely in denial in the fact that if it doesn't affect them personally or directly or someone that they really care about, it’s a non-issue,” said Dixon.
Dixon said he has been in Eau Claire since 1991 and the diversity of the city and especially the campus has changed.
“I would say there were around 300 students of color during that time frame. Now we’re at 851 so there have been some changes,” said Dixon.
But still, he said the diversity on campus is much less than the K-12 system in Eau Claire. According to Eau Claire Memorial High School data, around 12 percent of its students are non-white with two percent black.
College students like Demetrius Evans said racial profiling still exists.
“I think we all have prejudice but one of the things that the group that I work with, the peer diversity educators, we talk about micro-aggression,” said Evans who is a peer diversity educator on campus. “Subtle, little jabs, based on stereotypes whether they be racial or based on gender or sexual orientation, I think that we have to focus as a campus community on how we can prevent and stop these micro-aggressions from happening.”
Lawton said people have to want to be educated in order for King’s dream to come even closer to reality.
“I think people have to recognize that all of us are going to have prejudices but we don’t have to act on those prejudices. People have to understand that when they tolerate with racial joking, when they tolerate certain types of bad behavior in private space, it leaks out in the public space,” she said.
There are many things have changed though, like the people in Congress. According the historian of the House of Representatives, in 1963, there were just five black members of congress. Today, it’s more diverse than ever before with 44 black members, 38 Latinos, 13 Asian-American or pacific islanders and two native Americans.