The legacy of the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-1968) inspires immigrants, and especially young “dreamers,” to continue to fight for their rights at a time when they claim to feel “attacked” by segregationist policies, just as they did in the 1960s.
That is why, on the anniversary of the civil rights leader’s birth, they remember his teachings and pay tribute to him with various activities held in various places in Atlanta, the birthplace of the Civil Rights Movement.
“Dr. King’s legacy reminds undocumented students that the struggle for human rights can be redemptive,” Laura Emiko Soltis, executive director of Freedom University, an initiative created in 2011 in Athens, Georgia, to offer classes to undocumented students, told Efe.
Freedom University was created to provide university-level courses to “undocumented” youth who cannot attend Georgia’s public universities because they do not have legal immigration status, as prohibited by the state Board of Regents.
“As a professor of human rights at Freedom University, I see first-hand how Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy inspires our students,” said the educator, in whose Sunday class the students discussed King’s 1958 essay, “My Pilgrimage to Nonviolence”.
Georgia’s so-called “dreamers” have engaged in a number of acts of civil disobedience in recent years to protest state policies they consider “segregationist”.
“It’s not a coincidence that the same universities that once segregated black students are now doing so with undocumented students,” Soltis said.
But he added that just as black students organized and succeeded in desegregating Georgia’s public universities in the 1960s, undocumented students “will organize and desegregate public universities” across the state so that all young people have equal access to higher education.
“It’s not a question of if they’re going to make it, but when they’re going to make it,” said the executive director of Freedom University.
For Hispanic state Representative Brenda Lopez, King’s legacy has been inspiring to young Hispanics growing up in the United States, particularly in Georgia.
“King’s words are something that motivates all of us,” the state representative and aspiring U.S. House of Representatives representative told Efe as she participated in a parade Monday in Lawrenceville, Georgia, honoring the civil rights leader.
Along with Lopez will also be Jorge Granado, a 26-year-old who is running for state legislature.
“He (King) has inspired all of us, the African Americans, the Latinos; and now I inspire other young people like me, who have run for the Georgia House of Representatives,” Granado told Efe.