By force of will, the elusive dream of racial equality is kept alive [Editorial]

By force of will, the elusive dream of racial equality is kept alive [Editorial]
Members of the Temple Adas Shalom choir and St. James African Methodist Episcopal Church men's choir, from left, Kathy Lazarski, of Aberdeen, Bea Kolchin, of Bel Air, Tevis Hoke, of Havre de Grace, Linda Needel, of Belcamp, James Clark, of Havre de Grace, and Monroe Brown, of Aberdeen, sing together during a program honoring the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., at Temple Adas Shalom in Havre de Grace, Sunday, Jan. 17. (Steve Ruark / Baltimore Sun)

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his iconic "I Have A Dream" speech more than 52 years ago. The status of race in America since, to put it charitably, has been a mixed bag.

Since Aug. 28, 1963, when Dr. King uttered his famous words on the National Mall in the shadow of the Abraham Lincoln Memorial, there clearly has been progress.


The undeniable symbol of that progress is Barack Obama, the first African-American elected, and then reelected, president. In 1963, he would have had to attend a segregated school in Harford County. Today, he is in the final year of his two terms as president of the United States.

Obama becoming president belies how far the status of race still has to go to fulfill Dr. King's dream. Lost in the din of partisan divide and political rancor, much of it quietly based in racial tension, are examples, large and small, of hope. That hope is that Dr. King's dream may one day, no matter how long and painful the journey, become reality.

One shining example happened recently in Havre de Grace where the members of Temple Adas Shalom and the congregation of St. James AME Church unveiled their joint effort of the past year to honor Dr. King.

They unveiled their completed "River of Justice" mosaic that they began working on in January 2015 with the intent of being a tribute to Dr. King's legacy.

"It truly is a collaborative effort," Julie Sang, an Aberdeen resident and member of Temple Adas Shalom, said. She added the mosaic is "magnificent. It really is just the fact that so many people were involved."

Some of those gathered at the ceremony said the colorful mosaic represented the friendship, the longtime relationship and efforts between the Jewish and African American congregations to fight for racial justice.

Theon Curtis, who moved back to Aberdeen about two years ago after going to North Carolina to work on Obama's 2012 reelection campaign, put the project into perspective.

"This was a wonderful gathering," she said about the unveiling held in honor of the recent Dr. King holiday. "We've got Jews and blacks and Italians, and that's unity."

She pointed out that the country and the county still have plenty of racism to overcome, but there's hope as long as people keep coming together on projects such as the recent one in Havre de Grace.

"One day, hopefully, they will reach their goal," Curtis said.