Digging deeper for equality

Ongoing civil rights concerns worthy of difficult discussions and action

On Sunday, locals gathered at City Plaza to honor the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Unfortunately, some 50-plus years after the slain civil rights leader’s “I Have a Dream” speech, our nation continues to struggle with issues of equality.

In years past, events centering on Dr. King’s birthday have been celebratory in nature. But this year, the nation over, there’s a palpable sense of urgency and renewed activism. That’s in large part due to recent high-profile police-involved killings of unarmed black men, which have triggered protests, from coast to coast.

Here in Chico, we watched young people organize a march and a rally in response to the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., and Eric Garner in New York at the hands of police officers whom grand juries refused to indict. More than 100 protesters marched down The Esplanade and through the city center. They carried signs with phrases such as “black lives matter” and chanted “I can’t breathe,” in reference to the last words Garner spoke to police officers who watched as one of them held the father of six in the chokehold that asphyxiated him.

The protesters ended up at City Plaza, where the crowd swelled to several hundred strong. It was a moving display of solidarity attended by a wide cross-section of our community.

But we hope that it’s not the end of the local protests on this subject. Here in Chico, as in other communities throughout the United States, we need to dig a little deeper to have the conversations that will help move forward the work of Dr. King. They will be difficult conversations at times, but the end goal of racial equality demands them of us all.