When MLK arrived at the Charlottesville airport in 1963 for his speech at UVA, there was no official greeting, and he wasn’t welcomed in our restaurants or hotels. Many were concerned about the negative attention his speech at Cabell Hall Auditorium could bring. Thus UVA officials, administrators, student council members, and much of the general public opted out of attending, leaving him with an unfilled venue.
But that night King told those who came to listen, “if democracy is to live, segregation must die.” He reminded them that, “non-cooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with good.” He was perceived as a serious threat for expressing these kinds of truths. People tend to forget how disliked he was when he was killed.
There are still people wishing to tear down the legacy of MLK. There’s currently a movement afoot in various parts of the country to ban books about him and to eliminate anti-racism initiatives in schools. In our own community, a lawsuit against the Albemarle County School Division seeks to undo the county’s anti-racism policy adopted in 2019.
And Glen Younkin’s first executive order as governor is “to ensure excellence in K-12 public education in the Commonwealth by taking the first step on Day One to end the use of inherently divisive concepts, including Critical Race Theory, and to raise academic standards."
The struggle for justice and equality continues on... right here, right now.
-- Elizabeth Shillue
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