Fifty years ago today, Martin Luther King, Jr. shared his dream. He had a dream for his children, for my grandmother’s children, for me and for my children.
…A dream deeply rooted in the American dream – one day this nation will rise up and live up to its creed,
‘We hold these truths to be self evident: that all men are created equal.’
I have a dream . . .
At the Lincoln Memorial, in the year of the Centennial Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, the significance of the occasion was highlighted by carefully and not-so-coincidentally chosen words.
Martin Luther King, Jr. had a dream that day…
The dream was that all would be treated as equals. That each would join hands in brotherhood and rejoice. His dream was that freedom would ring from city to state to country. His dream was for the next generations to be freed from oppression and harsh judgement. He dreamed that those who had toiled and suffered to build the lives of others would finally be rewarded.
The themes that resonated that day were those of unfulfilled promises and nonviolent protest, of action and consequence, of love and acceptance, and of hope for the future.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.
I have a dream today!
Free At Last?
There has been tremendous progress:
- A black man as US President (for two terms, no less)
- The growing number of educated and prominent minority people in business and government
- The important roles that women play in society
- The right to love whomever you choose – regardless of sex, religion, or race
All these things have changed since that day in 1963.
However, if Dr. King were alive today, would he be pleased with the strides that the world has made in seeing his dream fulfilled?
What would he think of the institutional and systematic racism/bigotry that still exists? Would the number of single-parent families in the black community surprise him? How would he react to the glorifying of the Thug Life and the marginalizing of blacks as honest, hardworking and contributing citizens? Where would he stand regarding the lack of unity and community responsibility that prevails?
What Would Martin Do?
It is said that Dr. King drew his inspiration from the likes of Thoreau and Gandhi, as well as from his own father who was a Church Minister in the segregated South. He educated himself by reading and watching and listening, He participated and accepted the consequences for his actions, good or bad. He lifted his voice so that all could hear his views, whether they shared those views or not.
He cared enough to fight.
He heard the call to action, leading the charge that gave way to a movement forever immortalized in history and eventually led to his award of the Nobel Peace Prize.
While Black America was significantly impacted, other groups including women and LGBT have benefited from the legacy resulting from the birth of the Civil Rights Movement and other Human Rights efforts made by people like Dr. King and his family.
Despite the distance traveled in the last fifty years, there remains a long way to go before that triumphant day when thunderous choruses will ring out:
Free at last!
Free at last!
Thank God Almighty.
We are free at last!
Fifty years ago today, Dr. King’s professing of a dream moved a crowd of thousands to tears.
But what can it move us to do today?
Are we up for the challenge?