Social Justice Opinion: Don’t be fooled, we are still living in the Civil Rights Era By Matt Stephens Posted on March 13, 2015 8 min read 0 0 585 President Obama and First Lady march across the Edmund Pettus bridge in Selma, Alabama | Photo courtesy of whitehouse.gov Last week, President Obama took the same march in Selma, Alabama, as the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King did 50 years ago. A lot of things have changed since the MLK era; however, there is room for improvement. Bridging the gap between inequalities is still a struggle — even forgetting the little microaggressions in our society, like the fact Obama marched the same bridge in Selma, still named after, Edmund Pettus, a Grand Dragon in the KKK. We are living in a time where members of the LGBT community can’t get married, there is voter suppression and racist acts. In Selma, Dr. King fought for African American voting rights in a difficult time. In 2015, many Americans are still fighting for their right to vote. They are in many ways experiencing signs of voting suppression. The president’s call for an end to voter restrictions is not the only civil rights issue still in the hands of the American people. There are currently 31 states in the United States that require voters to present a form of identification before voting. Sixteen of those states require solely state approved identification, such as a driver’s license. If you do not have a valid driver’s license in a state requiring one, you cast a provisional ballot.The government does this to segregate votes of individuals without documentation; they essentially red flag their eligibility to vote. They do this so they can segregate ballots and review them later. Looking at the state of Florida in 2008, 42 percent of individuals who cast a ballot for president in Florida used a provisional ballot. Of those individuals, 51 percent of the ballots did not count towards the election. If you are an individual who is poor and you cannot afford a state ID, there is a chance you do not even get a vote. If anyone thinks that racism and the hatred from our past is still not prevalent today, it is time to wake up. Look at the news this week regarding the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity at the University of Oklahoma. The fraternity shouted racist comments on board a bus in regard to African-American students who will never be admitted to their fraternity. Racism is prevalent everywhere in the United States to this day. Take a look at the Ferguson Report by the Department of Justice. The report detailed how Ferguson’s police department profiled African-American citizens for a source of revenue. Other officers also used their work email to exchange racist comments in regard to African Americans. African Americans are not alone; Middle Eastern Americans are profiled every day. There is still a social stigma that people from a Middle Eastern country who immigrate here are terrorists because of the events of 9/11. They are every bit as American as you or me. The hatred from 50 years ago still flows in the blood of individuals in 2015. Looking at the LGBT community, they are fighting for their rights every day just as African Americans fought in Selma. In the U.S. Constitution, there is no explanation of marriage, nor does it state it is unlawful for individuals of the same sex to unite. However, many are skeptical because of their own religious beliefs. Religion is a freedom; that’s the beauty of this country. We have freedoms and our beliefs are unique. Seventy-two percent of U.S. residents live in a state that has legalized gay marriage. However, progress continues every day. Gay individuals are still being segregated in three states that have banned same-sex couples from marrying. The LGBT community gets so many rights taken away from them. Even when gay couples marry, they still do not have all of their rights. They, in some cases, can’t adopt a child, visit love ones in a hospital or even redeem Social Security benefits of their partner dying. Between voter restrictions, gay rights, and the hatred still existing in America, it is hard for anyone to say we aren’t still in a civil rights revolutionary era. Selma and the early civil rights movements in the south were a unifying and inspiring display by American society. However, that was only the start of the fight. It’s time for improvements in the present and that starts with everyone working together. The civil rights movement is ongoing every day in more ways than one. The hatred against minorities is still evident in the generation of today. These issues should not be a Republican or Democrat matter; this should be an American matter to fix a broken society that the Selma movement and a poorly-named bridge paved the way for.