On Wednesday, August 28, 2013, thousands of people from all across our great nation will convene in Washington DC to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the “March for Jobs and Justice,” that was led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. More than 200,000 Americans gathered for this political rally, which became a key moment in the struggle for civil rights in the United States. It was also here that, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, Dr. King delivered his historic “I Have A Dream,” speech.
Fast forward to today, while there continues to be a debate regarding whether Dr. King’s dream was realized or deferred, one thing is for sure: thanks to the efforts, leadership and tenacity of Dr. King and so many others, many African Americans have privileges that our ancestors did not have. What is not debatable, though, is that with those privileges comes responsibility. One of those responsibilities is to take care of our health, our families and ourselves so that we can not only enjoy the privileges gained, but also work to make even greater strides for future generations. While one may think it’s a stretch to connect the March on Washington DC with the health dangers associated with tobacco products, I don’t. As a member of the Wisconsin African American Tobacco Prevention & Poverty Network, each day I work diligently in the community to help ensure we work toward realizing the ‘dream,’ while reminding people that just because we have access to certain things—like tobacco products—does not mean they are good for us.
Not everyone in the community can make it to Washington DC for the 50th anniversary march, but each of us can and should do our part to honor Dr. King’s legacy. With so many disparities in our African American communities, we owe it to ourselves and Dr. King, to do our part to close the gap on some of these disparities and take responsibility for our health. Quitting smoking is something every smoker can and should do!