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Street Smarts

The third Monday in January is Martin Luther King Day, meaning it's a good time to again take stock of where we are in the quest for racial equality.

click to enlarge Tim Christian

Tim Christian of Rockrimmon works in human resources

How do you think Martin Luther King Jr. would feel about racial equality in America today? I don't think he'd be surprised that we still demonize certain groups, like Muslims and the LGBT population. Strides have been made, but things still haven't changed that much, especially in some places in the country.

What about here in Colorado Springs? I think Colorado Springs is fairly diverse, probably because of the military presence here.

Do you think the election and reelection of Barack Obama has changed the conversation about race in America? The people who had a problem with having a black president probably still do, but lots of people just care about what kind of job he's doing. King would probably be really surprised and pleased.

click to enlarge Rollin Pierre

Rollin Pierre of Security is a postal clerk

What comes to mind when you think about MLK? That he was a civil rights leader. But from an African-American perspective, he means everything. He sacrificed his life for his beliefs, and he acted in a non-violent way.

Do you remember when he was assassinated? Yes. The announcement came over the loudspeakers at school. I wasn't sure who he was because I was only in the third grade, but when I went home my dad was really upset, and that's when I learned how important King was.

How do you think King would feel about racial equality in America today? I think he'd be proud; as a country, we're progressing slowly, and there's still work to do. But there's probably always going to be work to do.

Do you think Obama's election and reelection has changed the conversation about race in America? Yes, and it proves anybody really can become president. I used to tell my son that, but I never really believed it. Now I do.

click to enlarge Carrie Chesney

Carrie Chesney of the Old North End is a civil investigator

What comes to mind when you think about Martin Luther King Jr.? What a graceful orator he was, and a powerful figure when it comes to civil rights.

How do you think he'd feel about civil rights in America today? I think he'd feel that there is still more work to do.

Do you think the U.S. can boast about racial equality? No, not really. There's still a lot of covert racism, classism, sexism, even ableism — disabled people are judged and categorized, too.

What about "liberty and justice for all"? I think it's attainable, but progress is slow and sometimes we fall short of the mark.


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