Prejudice and Racism - A Fair and Just Society is Still Only a Dream

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This Critical Essay Builds Upon the Concepts of Rawls and King to Examine the Potential for Justice in America

Martin Luther King Jr. made many claims about the American society in his famous "I Have a Dream" speech in 1963 that were all legitimate. Today, we have made many advances toward the racial equality that he sought. As a nation, however, we still have not "opened the door of opportunity to all God's children", as King so eloquently put it. In part, this is due to the fact that although our society has reached a degree of political nondiscrimination, this political nondiscrimination has not led to economic nondiscrimination. What it has led to, though, is affirmative action policy and awareness among the people of this
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optimistic, if not satisfied.

In Search of Equality

When King made his "I Have a Dream Speech, he was looking for a fulfillment of the promises of Democracy. He was looking for a time when his nation's people, particularly its Negro population, would live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal". By these words, King meant equal treatment and justice for all under the law. He sought a system of justice that was based on "fairness". John Rawls, a philosopher whose ideas had a lot in common with King's ideas, thought it was important to have social agreements in order to produce a just society. He, like King, thought it was important for society to have a social contract that ensured the least privileged members of that society would receive equal protection and equal rights. He also believed that society has moral obligations for fair and equal distribution. This fair and equal distribution is what Rawls meant when he spoke of 'fair' distributive justice. King, on the other hand, believed that the United States of America was not living up to its promises of fairness because all of its people were not being treated equally. Additionally, he felt his country was not upholding its social contract with his people because the Negroes were not being protected from such things as poverty and police abuse. Both Rawls and King envisioned

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