MLK's dream not quite reality, despite strong strides in SC

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Monday is a day of reflection and remembrance for a man who dreamed of uniting the people of our nation despite color, religion or wealth. While some say the dream of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. has been realized, others argue we have a long way to go.

"We've made great progress here in South Carolina despite what people think, we've made great progress, and if we continue to work together, we'll make more," predicts Bennie Swans, Jr. with the Carolina African American Heritage Foundation.

Swans has seen one man's dream take shape across a nation and across the street, watching South Carolina's own struggle to overcome racial inequalities. "One of my greatest fears is that because we've seen how far we were to where we are today, we assume that all is well," admits Swans.

But Swans says that's not the case. "It is not well from the standpoint of student achievement, it's not well from the disproportionate number in lockup, it's not well from the standpoint of employment and opportunities for all," states Swans.

Coastal Carolina Sociology professor Jason Eastman says the struggles are a vicious cycle. "You get this cycle where the prejudices reinforce the inequality and the inequality reinforces the prejudices. The biggest challenge in this state has to do with the economic segregation and the way we are just so divided in terms of our communities."

"Anytime that we struggle economically there is a divide that begins to occur: those that think someone has taken from them, and the have-nots who feel not enough is being given," explains Swans.

Swans says the truth lies somewhere in the middle. "What we've got to do is engage in real communications, face to face communications, civil communications as we move to solve the major problems that we have today," adds Swans.

Swans says making Martin Luther Kings Jr's dream a reality continues to require the entire community to work together.

"Yes we have a lot to be proud of, yes we've come a long way, and yes we have a long way to go, but I'm absolutely certain that we will arrive," claims Swans with confidence.

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