HILL AIR FORCE BASE — It was time spent reflecting on the life of an American hero at Hill AFB last week during the Martin Luther King Jr. commemoration luncheon, where Utah State Rep. Sandra Hollins said we are still facing similar battles to those King fought almost 50 years ago.
“We are here to celebrate the life of a man who left a powerful legacy … and blessed this world with a spirit, legacy and dream that lives on today … but … our nation still faces turmoil and struggle to find a real mission of his dream due to issues we face today, which goes beyond Chicago, Los Angeles and New York City,” Hollins said. “We face these trials in our own backyard, from neighborhoods of Ogden to the streets of Provo and everything in between. These issues hold us and prevent us from climbing higher to the mountain of equality when petty differences divide our nation and communities.”
Hollins spoke boldly, suggesting that too many people are sitting on the sidelines, doing nothing to change the injustices of poverty, discrimination, hate and the rampant divisions of community members by those aiming to fulfill political aspirations.
“As we celebrate his life and tradition today, we must face the cruel reality that we are not living up to his expectations for all men and women to attain quality and the same respectability of life,” Hollins said. “Dr. King stepped up to a cause he felt was right, stepping off the sidelines and faced the task head-on to fight over laws that were in direct violation of our constitutional values.”
Hollins praised Hill AFB as an example of a melting pot society with races blending together, willing to make the sacrifice for the men and women standing next to them.
“You step up each day and put on your uniform to defend this nation and its way of life. You don’t complain about who you are defending and why. You only care about defending the red, white and blue, and that is what King hoped to obtain when he gave his ‘I Have a Dream’ speech and other crusades,” Hollins said.
She pointed out that civil rights aren’t yet on an equal playing field in America. In order to harbor change, it takes looking to the future, namely with the youth in the country. “Each action we take upon ourselves is watched and learned by our youth, and there are lasting outcomes on who these young people grow up to become,” Hollins said.
Social media is the key component right now to defining society, Hollins pointed out, suggesting that youth today can spread words faster than wildfire in the Uinta Mountains.
“The issues of growing police-related deaths for minority groups has brought awareness to our young people and what they see as a threat to our nation,” Hollins said. “The power of young people can now extend greatly and their voice is one we can no longer ignore. They have shown power when they mobilize against unjust practices, and change will happen.”
Hollins says the civil rights movement is not dead and still lives on as people raise their voices against reform regarding equal pay, housing and equal access to education and health care.
“However, many people in our state are reactive rather than proactive in the face of challenges. We need to take steps and get more involved. We must come forward and speak up, not just in confinement of Facebook and Twitter, but in an environment where it can make a difference, where decisions are made,” Hollins said.
Community members are invited to the upcoming legislative sessions beginning on Jan. 25, she said. She also encourages people to join a local community board or attend city council meetings.
“We are not a community of quitters. History has defined us over and over again, and we embrace challenges and find our way through,” Hollins said. “Men and women fought back in establishing a nation today that serves as an example of a free society, and we fight back when we are not heard or treated equally.”
Although radical groups may try to put fear in people’s hearts, Hollins said, “We as a society do not bow down to threats. We face them head-on. Just as King stood up in the ’50s and ’60s to say that the time is always right to do what is right by taking on racial challenges of their time, we must continue to fight for civil rights. We are the first line of defense in this offensive battle. Be one loud voice.”