I don't think anyone with half a brain would argue against the assertion that Dr. Martin Luther King was probably the largest and most well-known symbol of the civil rights movement in American before he died. His "I have a Dream " sermon (speech) has become the watermark by which others (most) measure how far we have come since the days of the trubulent struggle for equal treatment under the law. In those days, the civil rights movement gave birth to many triumphs for the cause of equality, but it also yielded many gifted and visionary lives to the evil forces that wanted to keep them from succeeding. Medger Evers, Dr King, the three civil rights workers murdered in Mississippi: Andrew Goodman, James Chaney, and Micahael Schwerner; and all the other martyers of the civil rights movement were victims of those evil forces. But what has happened to their dream? What has happened to, and in the black community since the deaths of Dr. King, Medgar Evers, Emet Till, Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner?
What was Dr. King's dream? (click the title for the entire speech)
- 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 out in the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slaveowners 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 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 their character.
- 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 interpostion and nullification; that one day right down in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and
- I have a dream that one day every valley shall be engulfed, every hill shall be exalted and every mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plains and the crooked places will be made straight and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.
And how did Dr. King hope this dream would come about?
This is our hope. This is the faith that I will 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 symphomy of brotherhood.
With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to climb 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 new meaning "My country 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my father's 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.
So how are we doing?
Who are the keepers of the torch, and how are they doing?
And what of the standard bearers, what is their message to the black community and the rest of America?
I'd like to examine each of these in a coming series of topic. I invite the other contributors to explore this as well, and share your thoughts and research on the topic.
America is a divided land. The seeds planted at the birth of this great nation grew among thorns and brambles that threatened to strangle the life from it. The foundations for the first American Civil War were there from the birth of this nation and the unfinished business from it is with us today. If we do not learn from the mistakes of the past, we are doomed to repeat them over and over again. Are we going to raise new visionaries who speak the hard but necessary truth, or are we going to allow oursleves to be lead to oblivian by the current crop of posers and pretenders?
I'd love to hear what you all think.