Focus at Four: Decades later, checking in on Dr. King's dream

Published: Jan. 15, 2018 at 5:19 PM CST
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Are we living up to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s dream? That's the question thousands of people of color and their white allies are reminded to ask on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day every year.

"We get caught up in the dream," said Ann Boney, president of the local chapter of the NAACP. "But [King] was talking about the promise in this dream, and the promise was that we would have amendments to the Constitution."

But Boney also says, there's no harm in dreaming, particularly for future generations. It's why she suggests parents let their children approach them with concerns, rather than the other way around.

"If we just teach history, then our children can in turn figure out for themselves where they fit into the picture," said Boney. "A lot of times, when we talk about white privilege, then we take away from their experience as children."

"And when they do ask, we must answer the questions honestly," said Boney.

Hugh McElroy was the first African-American Aggie football starter in the 1960s. In 2018, he served as the keynote speaker for Kemp Elementary's MLK Day program.

McElroy says, no one, included himself, gets where they're going alone. He cites his black teammates, predecessors who paved the way for him to feel comfortable on the Texas A&M football team.

"I can imagine what it would have been like if my white teammates had seen a black face for the first time when I was there," said McElroy. "I don't know if I would have been able to endure by myself."

McElroy has advice for younger generations trying to form a community while navigating today's race relations.

"My advice would be, don't try to do anything special," McElroy said. "Blossom where you're planted."

Much of the history of the black community in the Bryan-College Station area is on display now at the Brazos Valley African-American Museum. Wayne Sadberry from BVAAM says, it's all a reminder of what still needs to change.

"There's still a disproportionate number of us in prison," said Sadberry. "There's also probably a disproportionate number of us that are not graduating high school, therefore not going on to higher education."

Sadberry says one of the things we can do as a society is to educate ourselves on the past. BVAAM has a new exhibit opening January 20 on the African Diaspora. For more information, see the Related Links.

For the full conversations with Boney, McElroy and Sadberry, see the video player above.