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Reflecting on Dr. King & WWE after Hogan, Crown Jewel & Evolution

In the United States, today (Jan. 21, 2019) is the national holiday which marks the birth of nonviolent anti-discrimination activist & leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. To commemorate the date and the civil rights spirit it honors, WWE has sent along the above video which will likely appear on this week’s episode of Raw.

Especially after a year where we debated the company’s partnership with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia amidst evidence of their human rights violations, and Hulk Hogan’s return to the WWE fold after years of estrangement caused by the release of a tape which captured him declaring himself a racist, it’s easy to react cynically to Vince McMahon tweeting about how Dr. King is his hero, or dismiss another slickly produced video from a company whose Chief Brand Officer’s motto is “philanthropy is the future of marketing”.

At the same time, there is evidence WWE is moving away from a version of sports entertainment where race, nationality, gender and sexual orientation are used in place of character or story. We’re still waiting for another black WWE World champ, but we’re getting women’s main events and dedicated pay-per-view (PPV) shows. So there is some cause for hope.

Every fan will have to decide for themselves. And truly, what wrestling does feels small in comparison to the larger discussion and conflict going on in society about our differences and how we can learn to live with one another. It is part of that dialogue and fight, though.

But whether it’s in talking about acceptance, inclusion and justice on our screens or anywhere in our lives, as we honor Dr. King and think on the necessary work which still lies ahead if we’re to ever make his dream a reality, we’ll leave it with these words from his daughter, Bernice:

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