The fight for justice, equality continues | Leslie Daugs

Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a reminder that much work remains to be accomplished

Leslie Daugs, Bremerton City Council member

Leslie Daugs, Bremerton City Council member

By LESLIE DAUGS | Bremerton City Council member

Fifty-five years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., gave his speech “I Have a Dream” in Washington D.C.

When he spoke eloquently before 250,000 on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, I was just one year old. His speech was one of the most inspirational ever given by an American. It included references to the Emancipation Proclamation and freedom and justice for the African-American population.

Today, 55 years later, I revisited his historical speech and compared his words to today’s reality. The questions I wish to ask: “Are we free?” “Does freedom still exist?” “Have we moved forward?”

At times, I see progress in the fight for civil rights, equality, freedom, injustice and women’s rights. That was so true when we elected Barack Obama as president in 2008 and watched as he made changes that moved our society forward.

Upon reflection, I must sadly conclude that our freedom is on questionable grounds today. Our Constitutional rights are under attack as never before. We are in a constant fight to ensure that all people are treated equally. We are fighting each day to ensure our civil rights are being met.

Our LGBTQ community is battling daily to be treated equally and fairly. Females (and males) are vigilantly on watch so that women’s rights are not being jeopardized.

If we need to constantly struggle so that each person has a chance to speak up and be treated equally and fairly, then how can we say we have moved forward and have made progress? White supremacist groups are growing in America and abroad, and a number of those involved in government are advocating divisive and racist policies that would turn back the calendar to a time when we were less free and less equal.

One hundred fifty-four years ago, the Emancipation Proclamation was signed. In 1963 — 55 years ago — Dr. King gave his stirring speech in Washington, D.C. Both of these events prefaced monumental changes that took place in our society that ensured a better, more equitable life.

Who doesn’t want a better life? It’s worth noting that freedom and equality don’t come to us freely. It must be fought for every day. Unfortunately, progress in those areas is minimal at best. But I am hopeful. Just like another champion of freedom and equality — President Lincoln — Dr. King continued to fight for those changes by standing up for what is fair and right by speaking up and risking his life.

I see people around me continuing to fight the fight, standing up and speaking about injustice, marching in the streets for a cause, rallying, getting arrested, running for office, and working daily to preserve the rights we have — or hope one day to have.

I, too, will continue to speak up, march, rally, get arrested and work daily to ensure that everyone is treated fairly and equally. Why do I fight this fight? Because people like me are being jeopardized. I am a child of immigrant parents. I am a person of color. I am a female. I am part of the middle class. I have family members who are LGBTQ. My friends and family include a wide range of ethnicities.

My family, my children and our future generations need to have a place to live where they will not encounter discrimination and will be treated fairly and equally. Until we see this in our world — in Kitsap County, the United States and globally — the fight is not over.

— Leslie Daugs represents District 2 on the Bremerton City Council. She has been a longtime advocate for the rights of people underserved in the community.

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by Ayana Liggins (2013 Congressional Art Competition)

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by Ayana Liggins (2013 Congressional Art Competition)

More in News

Fiona recreates Johannes Vermeer’s “Girl With the Pearl Earring” for her art class. (Photo courtesy of Jill Queen)
Students duplicate classics in art class

A quote widely attributed to legendary artist Pablo Picasso reads, “Art washes… Continue reading

Health District investigating four CHI Franciscan employees with COVID-19

Cases came from two separate Kitsap facilities and are not related to initial St. Michael outbreak

Agate Pass Bridge work basically finished

Crews are in the final stages of the Agate Pass Bridge painting… Continue reading

COVID making things tough at wildlife center

Online auction could be a big help

Wyatt Way work still set to be mostly done before December

Work continues on a main thoroughfare connecting east and west Bainbridge Island.… Continue reading

Health District again confirms only 3 new cases of COVID-19 in Kitsap County

Highest number in Bremerton with 53; lowest in BI with 45

BI arts leader to pursue more virtual services

She comes here after losing job due to virus in Tennessee

Trust’s new Rockaway Bluff provides ‘cathedral forest, spirituality’

Marks 5th acquisition for nonprofit’s Stand for the Land campaign in BI

Auction to help museum that’s reopened after months

The Bainbridge Island Museum of Art was all set up with new… Continue reading

Most Read