Wednesday, June 20, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream a half-century later

Fifty years ago this week, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stood in the shadow of the Lincoln Memorial and delivered perhaps the greatest speech of the 20th century. President Barack Obama will stand near the same spot Wednesday and honor the anniversary by addressing similar themes of unequal treatment and racial divides, issues this nation still wrestles with today. Tremendous progress has been made between the eras of the March on Washington and the nation's first black president, but King's dream of equality has yet to be fully realized.

King's speech lasted less than 20 minutes. The most memorable lines were not part of the written text, and the speech did not receive lasting acclaim until after the civil rights leader was assassinated in 1968. Yet it remains a defining moment in American history, and the urgency of its plea for freedom for all still resonates even as circumstances have changed.

In 1963 America, most African-Americans still could not exercise the right to vote or send their children to integrated public schools. King spoke that day of limited mobility because blacks could not find hotel accommodations, of routine police brutality and of "For Whites Only" signs. In St. Petersburg, it had been only a year since the St. Louis Cardinals and New York Mets first stayed in integrated hotels during spring training.

Florida and the nation have made great strides since then, and younger generations of all races cannot imagine such institutionalized racism sanctioned by law or common custom. The overt discriminatory barriers that King cited have since been eliminated by federal and state law as well as local ordinances. Diversity in race, gender and sexual orientation is less feared and more valued as a strength. But broader issues of inequality that King alluded to a half-century ago have yet to be overcome.

The Great Recession hit black Americans particularly hard, and the difference in unemployment rates between white and black workers has not narrowed in 50 years. Today's unemployment rate is 6.6 percent for whites but 12.6 percent for blacks. The income gap between white and black families has widened, and the achievement gap between white and black students remains stubborn.

Unlike 1963, black Floridians now hold seats in Congress and the Legislature. Yet state policies in a number of areas have a disproportionate impact on black residents. Defendants who invoke the "stand your ground" law to avoid prosecution are more likely to go free if the victim is black. Gov. Rick Scott and the Legislature refuse to embrace the Affordable Care Act or expand Medicaid — and black Floridians are less likely than white residents to have health coverage. The governor intends to again purge the voter rolls, and that could have a disproportionate impact on minorities and low-income residents if not carefully carried out.

The 50th anniversary of King's speech is a moment to celebrate his life's work and reflect on the nation's progress toward racial equality. It is also a time to recognize the work left to be done and to recommit to the ideals he so passionately embraced.

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Editorial: A court victory for protecting Florida’s environment

Editorial: A court victory for protecting Florida’s environment

A Tallahassee judge has affirmed the overwhelming intent of Florida voters by ruling that state lawmakers have failed to comply with a constitutional amendment that is supposed to provide a specific pot of money to buy and preserve endangered lands. ...
Updated: 12 hours ago
Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Innocent children should not be used as political pawns. That is exactly what the Trump administration is doing by cruelly prying young children away from their parents as these desperate families cross the Mexican border in search of a safer, better...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/19/18

Editorial: ATF should get tougher on gun dealers who violate the law

Gun dealers who break the law by turning a blind eye to federal licensing rules are as dangerous to society as people who have no right to a possess a firearm in the first place. Yet a recent report shows that the federal agency responsible for polic...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/18/18
Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

The new grass-roots effort to put a transportation package before Hillsborough County voters in November faces a tough slog. Voters rejected a similar effort in 2010, and another in 2016 by elected officials never made it from the gate. But the lates...
Published: 06/15/18
Editorial: 40 years later, honoring remarkable legacy of Nelson Poynter

Editorial: 40 years later, honoring remarkable legacy of Nelson Poynter

Forty years ago today, Nelson Poynter died. He was the last individual to own this newspaper, and to keep the Times connected to this community, he did something remarkable. He gave it away.In his last years, Mr. Poynter recognized that sooner or lat...
Published: 06/15/18

There was no FBI anti-Trump conspiracy

The Justice Department released Thursday the highly anticipated report on the FBI’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email probe and other sensitive issues in the 2016 election. It is not the report President Donald Trump wanted. But there is enough i...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Voter purge may be legal, but it’s also suppression

The Supreme Court’s ruling last Monday to allow Ohio’s purging of its voter rolls is difficult to dispute legally. While federal law prohibits removing citizens from voter rolls simply because they haven’t voted, Ohio’s purge is slightly different. T...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Editorial: Free rides will serve as a test of whether the streetcar is serious transportation

Who wouldn’t jump at the chance to ride for free?This fall, the TECO Streetcar Line eliminates its $2.50-a-ride-fare, providing the best opportunity yet to see whether the system’s vintage streetcar replicas can serve as a legitimate transportation a...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

AT&T and the case for digital innovation

A good way to guarantee you’ll be wrong about something is to predict the future of technology. As in, "One day, we’ll all …" Experts can hazard guesses about artificial intelligence, driverless cars or the death of cable television, but technologica...
Published: 06/14/18
Editorial: State, nonprofits share obligation to help Hillsborough’s foster kids

Editorial: State, nonprofits share obligation to help Hillsborough’s foster kids

The Florida Department of Children and Families has correctly set a quick deadline for Hillsborough County’s main child welfare provider to correct its foster care program. For too long the same story has played out, where troubled teens who need fos...
Published: 06/14/18