EDITORIAL | Fifty years later, would MLK be proud of U.S.?

If Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was alive, he would have turned 82 years old two days after the holiday honoring his name.

Truly, King’s “I Have a Dream” speech is one of the greatest and most inspirational speeches in U.S. history before more than 200,000 people, mostly civil rights supporters, gathered around the Lincoln Memorial on a hot summer day in Aug. 28, 1963, for his speech during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, a key moment in the Civil Rights Movement.

The speech, which called for an end to racism in our nation, was directed to all Americans. He was not speaking just to white or black Americans, but to our country as a whole.

What would Martin Luther King, Jr., say about our nation today? One can only imagine.

He would be pleased with number of accomplishments and opportunities afforded by black Americana, especially the election of the first black president, and many of the black leaders in business, politics, education, etc.

He would be proud of the number of black Americans who has risen to high ranks within our armed forces.

But would King be proud of those who show disrespect to countless American military veterans who shed their blood, sweat and tears so that citizens given an education, free to work and play, and allowed to attain the American Dream.

He would be saddened by the small portion of our nation’s black population that is enslaved and bound to lack of education, drugs and immorality. But there is always hope.

Our citizens — black or white, male or female, young and old — who are bound by emotional, financial and physical distress have a dream. A dream they break the shackle of hopelessness and replace them with honor, pride and responsibility.

The following was taken from King’s speech:

I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. 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.”

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 even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

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.

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.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with a new meaning, “My country, ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.”

And if America is to be a great nation this must become true.

From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, when we allow freedom to 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!”


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