How far have race relations come since 1968?
It was 45 years ago today that civil rights icon Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was killed by James Earl Ray in Memphis, TN. University of Houston professor Gerald Horne told KTRH that King was a man who changed the world.
“During the darkest days of Jim Crow he had the courage to lead a mass movement against the system, transforming the nation and the world as a result,” Horne said.
Much has changed since his death in 1968. So how have things changed since his death?
“It’s a mixed bag. On the one hand, compared to 1968 there’s been tremendous progress in terms of education, income and housing,” Horne told KTRH.
But Horne says there are things that Dr. King would be upset about if he were still here.
“Look at the rise in the population of the incarcerated, particularly in the state of Texas. Certainly that would be disturbing to Dr. King if he were alive today,” Horne explained.
Horne says an example of how far the country has come is the election of Barack Obama as the first African American president in 2008. During his time in office the President has faced his share of critics. Horne says some of that has to do with race.
“President Obama outstrips every previous U.S. President. It would be difficult to separate that vitriol from the fact that he is the first black President,” Horne stated.
However, Horne says the criticism comes with the position.
“President Clinton was also defamed and vilified to a certain degree as well. To a certain degree, that maltreatment comes with the territory of being President,” Horne explained.