Continue MLKs crusade against racism

Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday offers a chance not only to remember a great civil rights leader but to assess the state of racism in our country today.

Unfortunately, racism is alive and well.

While African-Americans no longer must fight to drink from the same water fountain or sit at the same lunch counter as whites, they still face discrimination, subtle and not-so-subtle, in many segments of society.

Numerous Internet sites and white-supremacist groups blatantly devote themselves to hate. It wasn't long ago that James Byrd, an African-American in Texas, was dragged to his death behind a car because of the color of his skin.

That horrifying act certainly desecrated King's memory, reminding all those who care about human dignity and equality that the struggle is far from over.

Traditionally Jews have been integral to the fight for civil rights. Our involvement remains crucial.

Education in most inner cities is sub-par. Separate and unequal still dominate American public education. And although more minorities have bought homes over the past three years than ever before, their ownership rates seriously lag behind those of whites.

In California, the vote by University of California regents to abolish anti-affirmative action has led to marked decreases in the number of minority students accepted at institutions of higher learning.

With the election of Gov. Gray Davis, we hope California will begin a new era. We hope the new governor will do more to level the playing field for blacks in employment and education.

We hope he will help make King's dreams a reality.