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Our Perverse Memorial to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Postponed by the threat of hurricane Irene, the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial will open soon in Washington D.C. How is the leader's dream interpreted by contemporary America?

What’s the Latest Development?


The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial is scheduled to be opened in Washington D.C. as soon as the threat of hurricane Irene passes. But will this memorial evoke perversions of the dream King had for our society, one in which an individual’s character is valued more than superficial qualities such as skin color or yearly income? Martin Davidson, professor at the University of Virginia Darden School of Business, fears King’s dream has been misinterpreted to make difference subservient to a universal ‘oneness’ which cannot bring about the change King envisioned. 

What’s the Big Idea?

Our talk of living in a post-racial society does a disservice to King’s dream, says Davidson. To value character is to celebrate the differences among us, not erase them for fear of discrimination. “Getting to King’s ‘content of their character’ place requires more than just leveling some metaphorical playing field. This place of clarity, in which people truly see one another for who they are, comes from being willing to engage—not avoid—our differences.” Looking for the similarities among us is not akin to justice. Rather we must open ourselves to differences inherent in us all. 


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