By Dr. William Oliver Hedgepeth
Faculty Member, Transportation and Logistics Management, at American Public University
One year ago, I wrote an article called “Why Continue to Celebrate the ‘Dream’?” I never met Martin Luther King, Jr., but I am old enough to have done so. I remember the invisible walls of prejudice and the very visible walls with signs on them saying WHITE and COLORED.
Those old memories of segregation still haunt me today whenever I visit my hometown in North Carolina. The ghosts of the past linger on in some places.
In 2016, I wrote of Dr. King, “How poetic that his day is celebrated in the winter with frozen winds to help remind us of frozen minds.” I had no idea that racial tensions in the U.S. were still so powerful a force in the winter of 2017. Those tensions still appear as a front-page story or as breaking news on TV.
History of America’s First African-American President Still to Unfold
We had an historic event unfold these last eight years. An African-American President of the United States was raised high on the shoulders of this country to lead us all into the light of a brighter future, with renewed hope and expected change. That history is still unfolding and will do so for many decades to come.
The next few presidents will shape the complete story of President Obama. They will also reaffirm the conviction of that man who had that dream, Martin Luther King, Jr.
Racial and Other Tensions Still Run High Inside America
There are too many sad stories of tensions in religions, races and genders that were stirred up over the last year or so. Why does it seem like the frictions of the 1960s have to be replayed again 50 years later?
Perhaps the older generations are afraid of losing their sense of history. After all, the millennials are not as unwilling as people of my generation, the Baby Boomers and the Greatest Generation, to create social change. I sense that the songs of “I have a dream” are being rewritten today by the younger generations who will replace us.
Perhaps we just have to wait a bit longer for the final pieces of Martin Luther King’s dream of freedom to come together. As for me, I am already on board with the dream when I first heard it so many years ago as a child.
Despite Racial Differences, People Still Can Relate to Each Other
Several years ago, my chance encounter with an African-American Army major drew us both to a crossroads. I met this man over lunch at the Officers’ Club at Fort Monroe and it turned out that we shared the same last name, causing us to laugh at the coincidence.
We shared stories of our past. His grandfather was Oliver Hedgepeth. My grandfather was Oliver Hedgepeth. The location of our grandfather’s tobacco farm was the same — Leggett, North Carolina.
We looked at each other for that sameness in our faces. We could see the sameness of time’s passage.
Martin Luther King, Jr., your name may be faded for the younger generation, but your life impacted the lives of future generations. You saw those generations coming before the rest of us did, before they did.
About the Author
Dr. Oliver Hedgepeth is a professor of transportation and logistics at American Public University (APU). He is the former program director of Reverse Logistics Management and Transportation and Logistics Management. Prior to joining APU, Dr. Hedgepeth was a tenured associate professor of Logistics and chair of the Logistics Department at the University of Alaska Anchorage. His book, RFID Metrics, was published in 2007 by CRC Press and is in revision.