On the eve of the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s assassination, students from local universities gathered at the University of Pennsylvania for a conversation about race. The conversation, centered around racial issues, explored the topic in the context of three current issues in American society: criminal justice, affirmative action, and public education. Attendees discussed these topics in light of Dr. King’s final speech, delivered on April 3, 1968, “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop.”
In “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop,” Dr. King urges the audience to continue seeking justice through nonviolent protest and unity. His speech continues to challenge Americans to think selflessly amid racial animosity and division. Attendees shared how their backgrounds have shaped the way they view current issues in American society. Dialogue then further led to current political issues, such as the disparities in education and legal sentencings, the connection between socioeconomic class and ethnic groups, police brutality, and the current state of race relations. Attendees then shared their own personal experiences and contextualized them within these important issues.
The students left the discussion with a challenge to continue making America, in the words of Dr. King, “what it ought to be.”