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Adams: Everyone gained from King vision of equality
Wednesday, August 28, 2013
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream will be fulfilled when there are no inequalities, according to Jim Adams, chairman of the Henry County Board of Supervisors.
Until then, “I think it’s relevant,” Adams said of King’s “I Have a Dream” speech that was delivered 50 years ago today.
Improvements over the last 50 years reflect King’s vision of equality because they are not for one particular race, ethnicity or individual, Adams said.
“When I think about the positive things that have occurred over the number of years, I think about the number of people who have been impacted,” he said. While King galvanized the civil rights movement, many other segments of society have benefited.
“We now have the Americans With Disabilities Act for those with handicaps or disabilities, equal opportunity laws that affect everyone regardless of age, sex or race,” Adams said. “Procurement-type policies have been put in place for people and companies that are doing business with certain branches of the government.”
Many of those laws and others underscore the fact that “everyone should realize there shouldn’t be any discrimination because of a person’s background, age or nationality” or other factors, Adams said.
“Part of Dr. King’s speech talked about the fact that we have a Constitution” which focuses on equality, “but yet at that point in time, the black race did not feel they were equal because there were apparent physical signs like segregation in restaurants and that sort of thing,” Adams said.
So while King’s focus was primarily on black Americans, “I feel that everyone as benefited,” he said.
On a personal note, Adams said he was in sixth grade when schools were integrated.
“You’re now approaching a fourth generation of students (since then) and they don’t see” race, Adams said. “I think that we have evolved to where our young people only see others as just another person rather than trying to distinguish them by their ethnic background or country of origin. To me, that means that we have a mutual respect for one another.”
In terms of obstacles remaining, Adams said, “I think as a society, we always have to look to see if someone is being treated unjustly or unfairly, evaluate that and do something about it.”
However, he asked a rhetorical question that he heard from a former fellow employee.
“Do you view a chance to do the right thing as an obstacle or an opportunity?” Adams said. “It may be an opportunity to correct a wrong.”