Immigration and Dr. Martin Luther King’s Dream

Today, we celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a man whose dream of equality and human rights changed the course of history. His legacy will be remembered this week by people of all colors and creeds who still believe in the American dream and who continue to fight for equality, civil rights and the basic human dignity they deserve.

In remembering the fight Dr. King made for equal rights among all persons of any race, the similarities of his struggle and the immigration fight are easy to see. Rev. Harvey Clemons, Jr. of the Pleasant Hills Baptist Church is quoted saying, “Immigration is about human dignity and the nobility of parents of different tribes and nations facing the risk of coming to a foreign land, a land of opportunity, to work for a better tomorrow for their children…Dr. King invoked the truth, the truth being that all humans ought to be treated with a certain dignity. It would be natural for us to look to him as an example for fighting for a just cause.”

Similarly, Rev. Al Sharpton, also an outspoken advocate in the fight to end racial profiling, noted that defending civil rights should be an “everybody issue”: “We need to stop comparing disparities and start finding solutions. It is imperative for the African American community to stand together with the Latino community and for the Latino community to stand with the Asian community. You cannot have human rights for some—we need it for all. We must stand together with all our brothers and sisters against this national outrage.”

A poll conducted by the Pew Research Center reveals that one year after the election of President Barack Obama, “black optimism about America has surged, while Hispanics have become more skeptical about race relation.” According to the poll, Hispanics are now seen as the ethnic group facing the most discrimination—which is not surprising, as America’s Voice blogger Jackie Mahendra says, given the “racially-charged immigration rhetoric that flows from talk radio to nightly news to the halls of Congress.”
Now, more than ever, it’s important to remember Dr. King’s message that all men are created equal—not just for Hispanics and African Americans, but for all people who come to this country in search of the American Dream.