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How Donald Trump’s Government Shutdown is Affecting Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

The government shutdown is in its’ fourth week, and there doesn’t appear to be an end in sight; and with it comes a host of unfortunate consequences.

More than 800,000 workers officially missed their first paycheck of the shutdown last week, leaving many federal employees to wonder how they are going to pay for their basic needs. Martin Luther King, Jr. is supposed to be a holiday for federal employees. They will be off-duty but they will not be paid. Moreover, due to the shutdown, some popular government-run sites, such as Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park may not be open. People who planned to celebrate the civil rights icon’s 90th birthday last Tuesday were out of luck, as the site was closed.

Dr. King’s life and work symbolize the quest for freedom, equality, and nondiscrimination, all essential to realizing the American dream. Dr. King his life on the line for freedom and justice every day; his dream was – “to make America great.”

Since King’s August 28, 1963 speech on the Lincoln Memorial steps, our country has undergone dramatic changes in civil liberties, slowly moving closer to a society that nurtures justice and equality for all people, regardless of race, creed, color, religion, or ethnicity. Today should be a time to recall our roots and remember what it means to fight for our rights. Yet, as I reflect on the underwhelming progress our nation has made since Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech and the current inaccessibility of his historical sites, it is clear that there is still serious work to be done.

The Trump administration has a well-documented hostility to civil rights. Moreover, Congress has proven ineffective at advancing policies that promote and protect the civil and human rights in America. We have seen a constant stream of racist comments that indicate President Trump gives little regard to his African-American constituents. His most recent comment was that he doesn’t want people “from s***hole countries” coming to the US.

If President Trump really cared, at the very least, measures could have been taken to ensure Dr. King’s legacy is fully celebrated despite the shutdown. If Dr. King was alive today, he’d encourage solutions. He’d say that for the common interest of humanity, we must put aside our partisan, political differences and focus on what is the greatest benefit to all.

Until we open our hearts and minds to each other’s life experiences, America’s progress, as ‘one nation, under God (or under law), indivisible, with liberty and justice for all’ will never truly become a reality. And, don’t forget to vote at the local, state and national levels. Cast informed ballots and hold your elected representatives accountable.

As we remember Martin Luther King, Jr., let’s also remember that “We may have all come on different ships, but we're in the same boat now.” Our government has done little to protect the right of its citizens. You may be unable to visit a national landmark in Dr. King’s honor, but no one can prevent you from courageously living out his dream. Fight prejudice and demand action by our leaders. As America did in August of 1963, it is time to stand up, speak out, and fight back.

#MLKDay #MLK2019 #BlackLivesMatter #MarkMBello #BetrayalInBlack

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