On MLK Day, families reflect on experiences with racism

By: Ryan Famuliner Email
By: Ryan Famuliner Email

Here in Michiana, folks took the opportunity to remember Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s fight for civil rights. At Goshen College, some special guests helped show how the fight continues today.

It’s been almost 50 years since Dr. King visited Goshen College to talk about the African-Americans' struggle for civil rights.

The events at the college Monday were meant to show how far we've come in 50 years, but also how far we have left to go.

This holiday is a day every year Americans look back at the injustices and atrocities of Dr. King's era.

But Monday an audience at Goshen College saw some of the atrocities of our era.

“I have a dream that no child will ever have to hear men in white hoods shouting hatred in the night,” said Drake Meyers.

In 2001, Drake and his family lived in a neighborhood in Osceola that was the self-proclaimed “headquarters” of the KKK.

“The orange glow that could be seen from around the neighborhood,” said Stacie Meyers-Rice, Drake’s mother, as she remembered what it was like to be able to witness the demonstrations at the KKK compound within her neighborhood.

“Hearing the chants in the night, seeing the hoods and robes and swastika flags; knowing that that even exists anymore,” Meyers-Rice said.

The audience also heard from another family that felt their way of life scorned.

“I think it's a constant fight; I think it's a constant struggle,” said Adam Williams, as his wife Maggie stood alongside him,

A cross was burned on the Williams' lawn in Elkhart just this past May.

“I think it's something we keep in the back of our minds, and we're constantly thinking about it, having four interracial kids,” Williams said.

While many spent today touting what will happen tomorrow as President Elect Barack Obama will be inaugurated, for these families, progress is relative.

“Even though we have President Obama coming into office there's still going to be those people that hate that try to intimidate and have an agenda,” Meyers-Rice said.

“I think tomorrow is just another step. You know we've made many steps many sacrifices and tomorrow will just be another step, another piece of that puzzle,” Williams said.

Another point the Williams and Meyers-Ray family wanted to make today was that Indiana is only one of four states that does not have hate crime laws.

The Williams family could only press charges for the cross burning on the federal level where there are hate crime laws, and the FBI did investigate their incident back in May.

But the family says it slowed down the process, because local investigators weren't trained on how to investigate a hate crime.

To see video from the event today, and from our past coverage of the events the Williams and Meyers-Rice families experienced, click on the video link above.

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