Why the 'Race Discussion' Isn't Over 50 Years Later

CVS Caremark Chief Diversity Officer David Casey hopes the celebration will remind younger generations that more work needs to be done.

By David Casey


I believe America is the greatest country on Earth. That was part of my motivation to voluntarily serve her as I did for eight years in the U.S. Marine Corps. However, our celebration of America's broad stripes and bright stars should not preclude us from challenging our country and ourselves to be better. To me, that's what the upcoming March on Washington represents—an opportunity to be better.

Although I was not yet born when Dr. King delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech 50 years ago, I do know that many of the convictions and social challenges he laid before us are just as relevant and malignant in 2013 as they were in 1963. To be sure, we have made real progress in many respects, but in many others, we have not only made little to no progress, we have regressed.

Remove the date from any number of recent news stories and they could have just as well been time-stamped during the apex of the original civil-rights movement—challenges to voting rights; racial tensions due to social inequities and civil injustices such as racial profiling; socioeconomic disparities; unequal access to affordable, quality health care; unequal access to quality education; and unequal pay for equal work, to name a few. I heard it said recently that this moment in time and these issues are this generation's defining moment, as persuasive a call to action as the segregated lunch counters and back-of-the-bus Jim Crow laws were for past generations.

That may sound counterintuitive to some in 2013. After all, there were numerous declarations that President Obama's 2008 election was the dawn of a new day, what was deemed a "post-racial" America. With a Black (as he defines himself) President, hadn't Black Americans achieved the ultimate in equality? Good grief, aren't we done with the "race" discussion? Not hardly on either point. While having the race discussion may be a matter of convenience for some, it's a matter of everyday reality for me. For example, I can't simply decide when I wake up in the morning whether or not I'm going to be Black today. Instead, I am automatically in a cohort that's 80 percent more likely to be stopped and frisked for no other readily apparent variable than the color of my skin.

This is in no way meant to imply or endorse a victim mentality. As the hundreds of thousands expected for this year's march look to reinvigorate the movement ignited in 1963, I sincerely hope that the march inspires a younger generation not only to continue their social-media activism, but also to get personally involved within their communities. I trust that those who attend the mass gathering will walk away knowing the real work was not simply making it to Washington, D.C. Systemic, impactful and lasting change happens each and every day as we make conscious decisions about what actions we decide to take. Dr. King spoke of "unearned suffering," and it is how we choose to react to this oppression that changes our lives and the lives of others.

I do believe that my dream is the American dream. I do believe that America has the potential to one day embody the true meaning of its credo: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal." I certainly hope these challenges that have endured for the past 50 years aren't the same challenges being vetted on the 100th anniversary of the first March on Washington.

America—the greatest country on Earth, with an opportunity to be better.

David Casey is Vice President, Workforce Strategies and Chief Diversity Officer at CVS Caremark, one of DiversityInc's 25 Noteworthy Companies.

The Royal Wedding Ceremony Included the African-American Experience

A sermon on the civil rights movement and slavery in America and the soulful sounds of a gospel choir were important parts of the ceremony.

An official wedding photograph released by Kensington Palace on May 21 / TWITTER

The marriage of American actress Meghan Markle and Britain's Prince Harry on Saturday was anything but the traditional royal protocol for a wedding at Windsor Castle in England. From a sermon by the first Black leader of the Episcopal Church in the United States to a soul-stirring gospel choir, it was clear that Markle is taking her African-American heritage with her as she begins a new life as one of Britain's royals.

Read More Show Less

We White People Need to Own This

Martin Luther King has been dead for 50 years and Donald Trump is our president. Who is responsible?

REUTERS

Luke Visconti is the founder and CEO of DiversityInc. Although the title of his column is meant to be humorous, the issues he addresses and the answers he gives to questions are serious — and based on his 18 years of experience publishing DiversityInc. Click here to send your own question to Luke.

We will be deluged by Martin Luther King articles and columns today. Some will be excellent, like the one Rev. Jesse Jackson wrote. But most will be saccharine sweet and not say what needs to be said.

Read More Show Less

Ignoramus Sarah Huckabee Sanders Attacks John Lewis for Not Attending Trump's White Minstrel Show Appearance at Civil Rights Museum

"It's laughable that the White House is criticizing John Lewis and Bennie Thompson for not attending the opening of a civil rights museum that honors the sacrifice of ... wait ... John Lewis, Bennie Thompson, and many others," Rep. Cedric Richmond fired back.

REUTERS

According to the White House, a photo op at a civil rights museum holds more weight than being an active participant in and making sacrifices for the movement itself.

Read More Show Less

Racist in Chief Told To Stay Away from Civil Rights Museum Opening by NAACP

"He has created a commission to reinforce voter suppression, refused to denounce white supremacists, and overall, has created a racially hostile climate in this nation," said Derrick Johnson, NAACP president and CEO.

ALAMY

President Donald Trump's planned visit to a civil rights museum in Mississippi is an insult to civil rights heroes, according to the NAACP.

Read More Show Less

Rev. Jesse Jackson Announces His Battle with Parkinson's Disease

"It's an opportunity for me to use my voice to help in finding a cure for the disease," Jackson said in a statement.

Civil rights leader, Baptist minister and politician Rev. Jesse L. Jackson Sr. announced on Twitter Friday afternoon his personal struggle with Parkinson's disease.

Read More Show Less

FBI's Attempt to Smear, Discredit MLK Highlighted in Newly Released Documents

Today, the FBI continues its attempt to create fear and paranoia surrounding racial justice movements.

A 1968 FBI document released last week further depicts the Bureau's obsession with tainting the reputation of slain civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Read More Show Less

NAACP Warns Minorities Traveling to Missouri

The NAACP and allies rallied at the Capitol in Jefferson City to dissuade the signing of a bill that fails to protect minorities.

REUTERS

NAACP's national delegates voted on Wednesday to issue a "travel advisory" stating that people of color and other marginalized groups travelling to Missouri are at risk of their civil rights being violated.

Read More Show Less