Some see hope, some see change far away on MLK Day
It has been a tumultuous year for race relations in America, punctuated with the death of George Floyd in Minnesota.
On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, many New Jersey residents found themselves in a contemplative mood.
On Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard in Newark, one can see the gleaming towers of Manhattan so close yet so far away. The same can be said perhaps for the dream of Dr. King himself.
“With our democracy and everything going on today, I feel like we all need to just put everything down. Heal one another, love one another,” says Newark resident Omar Treadwell.
Treadwell decided to walk home from work on Monday to think about the holiday and clear his head.
“Be appreciative and understand we can unite. We can be one,” he says.
John Gamble, a sophomore engineering student at New Jersey Institute of Technology, was on his way to get a COVID test. He says that he found himself thinking about MLK and the Black Lives Matter movement.
“I’m happy to see how this country is going to change in the next four years and how we can bounce back from everything,” he says.
Andrew Yeboah says that he learned about Dr. King as a child in Ghana and was inspired to come to America eight years ago.
“America is the greatest country on Earth,” he says.
But a few blocks south, Bilal Hay was coming from the hospital where his friend was in surgery with a gunshot to the back.
“The way it's going now I don't think nothing’s going to get better. There's shootings everywhere you go. I'm just happy to be here. I'm happy to be alive. I appreciate life. I'm 41, and I hope I make it to another birthday,” he says.
In a year marked by protests over police brutality into a year when white supremacists stormed the Capitol, all amid a pandemic disproportionately affecting people of color - in a city still struggling with legacy of racism - on this day and on a street named after Dr. King, some see hope. Some see none. And others, like Tamika Francis, are still searching for it in the distance.
“It’s crazy. It’s scary. I have sons growing up at this time, in this world, and I know Dr. Martin Luther King really wanted a change,” she says. “But it seems like the change is so far away. So, I don’t know if a change is really going to come. That’s it. I don’t know if change is going to come. I don’t.”