Today is the the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech. Only 50 years ago. I found myself a little startled by how not so long ago that really is. There are still people alive today that were alive then. While this iconic day is considered "history" it's actually not that distant from today.
In honor of this anniversary I read through the speech again today, and thought about what parts of the Dream have come true, and what parts are likely never to come true.
There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?" We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the negro's basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their self-hood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating: "For Whites Only." We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until "justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.We can't be satisfied yet. Police brutality towards Black people is still abundant. There was a period of time between when civil rights violations were heavily covered and today's age of the internet and camera phones where it may have seemed that it wasn't as great of an issue. But daily, police brutality occurs.
While businesses very seldom have the audacity to refuse the patronage of Black people, and no one is posting "White's Only" signs, Black patrons can be kicked out of a restaurant if a white patron feels threatened, and even Oprah Winfrey can't shop without being profiled as poor.
More Black people are able to move to success now, than they could then, but the capacity for a White person and a Black person to be successful, even with the same actions, is not the equal.
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of "interposition" and "nullification" -- one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.Here, we've made strides. We have become a much more unified country since these words were spoken. Do we still have strides to make? Yes. But I think with each generation color-lines are being broken down when it comes to brotherhood and sisterhood.
We have ways to go when it comes to racism, freedom, and equality.
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."We've always been created equal. The task is changing the system to actually BELIEVE this and reflect it. Make our school systems reflect equality. Have the arrest and conviction rates between races reflect equality. I don't think this will ever happen. Even if by some miracle color no longer matters, wealth, or lack there of, is still a persistent stumbling block in reaching equality. There is however, still the potential for equality gaps to still become smaller.
And so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire.
Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York.
Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.
Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado.
Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California.
But not only that:
Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.
Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee.
Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi.
From every mountainside, let freedom ring.
And when this happens, and when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:
Free at last! Free at last!
Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!