What Would Reverend King Think About “Categorizing” Americans?

Last year my daughter was applying to colleges and received, unsolicited, several scholarship offers based on her high school record. I was happy to discover that these offers included no questions or criteria concerning her skin color, sex or family income.

As we celebrate Martin Luther King’s birthday today we might reflect on how much emphasis is now put on dividing Americans into classes like race, age, sex, disability, marital status, and factors other than just being an American. It was our Founders’ creed, Abraham Lincoln’s moral conviction, and Martin Luther King’s vision that we are all created equal, and that the color of our skin should be no more important than the color of our eyes.

This categorization of Americans has grown with the size and power of the federal government in recent decades. That is especially ironic since it was the central power of the federal government that was needed to finally liberate black slaves in our civil war, end segregation and enforce voting and other rights for blacks in the 1950s and 1960s. The government gave, and now the government hath taken away.

You can’t help having concerns that all these legal and regulatory sub-classes and divisions of Americans may be leading our nation not only away from its ideals, but towards serious political tensions that could undermine our freedoms and self-government.

Only fifteen years after Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination, Congress approved a national holiday celebrating his birthday. Today, forty-five years later, we should all be asking ourselves whether his beliefs about the proper role of race and other ascriptive characteristics in our society are truly being honored by current federal policies.