ASU professor: Martin Luther King Jr. ideals resonate long after death

Jan 15, 2018, 4:39 AM | Updated: 11:06 am
FILE - In this Aug. 28, 1963,  file photo, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., head of the Southern Christi...

FILE - In this Aug. 28, 1963, file photo, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., head of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, addresses marchers during his "I Have a Dream" speech at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington. As civil rights leaders and activists gather Monday, Jan. 16, 2017, at sites across the country to celebrate the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr., the slain civil rights leader's daughter Bernice King is encouraging Americans to fight for his vision of love and justice "no matter who is in the White House." (AP Photo, File)

(AP Photo, File)

PHOENIX — The ideals of Martin Luther King Jr. will continue to resonate with the American populace long after his assassination, a spokesman said, but there still remained work to be done.

Neal Lester, the founding director of Project Humanities at Arizona State University, said it was important for Americans to not settle for steps that seemed significant but lacked follow through.

“It’s too easy to embrace that and start running with it,” he said. “And I hear people say that ‘Oh, but we’ve had a black president, that’s progress.’”

“But all the racial stuff that had to be put up with, that is not progress,” he said.

The problem is, Lester said, every single MLK Day feels sort of cliché in that we’re just sort of looking at the same stuff.

“If we talk about MLK holiday as a holiday that’s committed to service, it can’t just be planting trees on Jan. 15,” he said. “There has to be some other commitment that measures progress.”

Protests now have much more power through social media.: Fom occupy Wall Street to Black Lives Matter, NFL players taking a knee all the way to the current Me Too movement.

“It’s grounded in gender relations, but within gender relations there are race relations and class relations,” he said.

“With this for example, I think the fact that people are speaking up and people are taking responsibility and people are being held accountable, has to signal a change and it has to be in that tradition that is fundamentally connected to who Martin Luther King was and what his legacy continues to be.”

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ASU professor: Martin Luther King Jr. ideals resonate long after death