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Many Stress Importance Of Remembering MLK's Legacy

Posted April 7, 2003

— Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. dreamed of the day when everyone would live together in peace, but many wonder if that day has come?

In 1968, Dr. Percy Murray was a student at North Carolina Central University. Today, he is the interim dean for the department of Graduate Studies. He said he is a living product of King's neverending fight for racial and social equality.

"When I came here as a student, I participated in boycotts, handed out leaflets. I had no idea about civil rights or anything," he said.

Murray said North Carolina has come a long way since 1968. He remembers a time when there were only five black basketball players in the ACC. Schools for black children were little more than sheds filled with rickety old tables and chairs. Blacks went to one school and whites to another.

"We see social economic and political changes, and we see that all across the state," he said.

Those changes made their way to the Capitol too. In 1970, there were a total of 62 black elected officials in North Carolina. In 2000, there were close to 500.

"There has been a tremendous increase in those people who've been closed out who are now at the tables of power," said Dr. Jarvis Hall, chairman of North Carolina Central's Department of Political Science.

Hall said King's legacy still lives on 35 years after his death, but he said the key to realizing his dream is not forgetting he had one.

"It causes you to reflect upon what has happened, what has changed and what needs to be done," Hall said.

"Civilizations have come and gone and we don't want to be one of those, you don't know your history and you don't embrace it, you'll lose everything people fought for," Murray said.

Although King's main focus was civil rights, he also had strict antiwar beliefs. Had he been living today, his supporters say he would have spoken out against the war with Iraq.


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