Contributions of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The polls are open today in Gainesville for early voting for the Presidential primaries. I thought this would be a good day to vote and think about the power of change that is possible through civic engagement.

Often voter turnout in primaries and elections is below 50 percent of eligible voters. The blame is placed on voter apathy, lack of perceived good candidates, or even the weather on voting day.

One semester, a student of mine made special arrangements to drive to Miami to vote in her first election as a US citizen. She was so excited and even honored to be in a country that had meaningful and peaceful voting.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s initiatives showed how dramatic social change can happen through formal change processes, like elections, and through civil disobedience. The current movie “The Great Debaters,” based on a true story, provides a dramatic story of the challenges for the all-black college’s debate team members, for blacks, and for US society in the 1930s — which isn’t that very long ago.

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