Since the Civil War that claimed 600,000 American lives, America hasn’t known such large scale bloodshed on our own shores, among our own people. We live peaceful lives, for the most part, despite our differences. We work together, live next to one another, go to school together and even marry one another. Yet we still struggle to live up to Dr. King’s dream of harmony and the vision articulated in our founding documents: the idea that all humans are indeed created with equal worth and should be treated equally in the eyes of the law.
To be sure, it took quite some time before these ideals were even fully expressed in law. Until the Thirteenth, Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments, members of one race were held in legalized bondage. For decades after that, that same race was legally forbidden to attend particular schools, use particular bathrooms, and often prevented from voting. But one by one, the Civil Rights Movement succeeded in getting these laws repealed peacefully. No machetes. No killing fields.
Yet visible inequality prevails. The question for our generation is: have we reached the limits of what changing the law can actually do to correct such inequalities? Repealing legislation which violates the equal protection clause of the Constitution is a matter of justice. And more importantly do such laws actually raise the standard of living of the targeted minority groups?
Check out Part 2 of this commentary to look at the issue of education among minorities…
Bishop Harry Jackson is chairman of the High Impact Leadership Coalition and senior pastor of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, MD, and co-authored, Personal Faith, Public Policy [FrontLine; March 2008] with Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council.