In celebrating the birthday of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. last month, we recalled his leadership and contributions during the civil rights struggles, which essentially held America to its founding promise by attacking rampant discrimination and Jim Crow laws in the South. Today Dr. King would know that America is still faced with seemingly overwhelming problems of bigotry, disparities in health care, economic inequality, and systemic racism which continues unabated. I think he would speak openly about what many people find the extremely distasteful, hateful, and demeaning rhetoric formerly coming out of the White House.

Dr. King would urge the government, and people from all races, to realize that no community is devoid of racism. Yet if we are to survive we must strive to live peacefully in a world composed of differing individuals and groups. And if we are to adjust ourselves to such a world we must understand what such differences mean, and how they may determine our individual and group destinies.

We still have deep ethnic, religious and racial prejudices in every community in America, especially the unrelenting horrific number of unarmed murders of black Americans. Dr. King would ask us to examine our own prejudices and ask what this tells us about ourselves, what it means, and how it affects our children.

Whether or not hateful remarks are made in stressful situations or in private social settings, we must be mindful of how inappropriate and damaging these intolerant remarks are, and how they affect our daily lives. I think Dr. King would ask all of us to actively and sincerely work in our own communities to eliminate ethnic and racial biases, as are the numerous individuals joining the struggle for racial equity.

We here on Martha’s Vineyard can do our part to work toward Dr. King’s dream of a world where every man, woman and child can live in peace with honor and respect.

Marie Allen

Oak Bluffs