LEE COUNTY, FLA — Thousands of feet standing and marching Friday, where giants once stood 57 years ago.
On that day, Martin Luther King Jr. shared his dream with the world, but in light of recent events. Friday's anniversary begs the question, "how close are we to realizing that dream?"
I spoke with FGCU professor Ted Thornhill, who studies sociology and race, and he says the answer is "not close at all."
"Before he even got to that point in his speech, the first half talked about the great debt that America, and white America in particular owed, in his words, the "Negro," the term used during that time period by many. But black America is owed a great debt by this nation and it remains to be the case," said Thornhill.
In fact, Thornhill says he's not convinced we'll see king's dream fully realized anytime soon.
"I will say it's a possibility, but I would say in the words of political scientists and political theorists Michael Dawson, not in our lifetime," he said.
Why you may ask? Well, Thornhill points to ongoing racial inequality and says while there has been progress., it's happened in fits and starts.
"It's like you're trying to climb a ladder to make it up to the top of a structure, but there's people already at the top of the structure and as you climb they're throwing heavy objects down at you," he said.
That outlook may sound depressing, but Thornhill also says it shouldn't discourage people from continuing to do the work.
He says voting, intentional education and be willing to get uncomfortable or potentially sacrifice things in the name of racial justice are just a few ways to keep fighting.
"It also involves things like reaching out to your elected officials at the local level, talking to friends and family, speaking out when there are material consequences for you voicing your opinion, when you hear something that is racially disturbing or overtly racist, subtly racist," he said.
And for things to truly get better, Thornhill also says it's work that we all must be willing to do, regardless of race or background.