Fifty-seven years ago I was 11 years old and I had a pony. All was right in my world!
I never noticed at the time those fifty-seven years ago that thousands of Americans marched in Washington DC. All was not right in their world. But they had a legitimate grievance. And more importantly, they had a leader among them who so eloquently, so fervently and so hopefully gave one of the most beautiful speeches I’ve ever heard.
Of course you know that I’m referring to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I have a dream” speech. We all know that part of the speech. But have you ever listened to his speech in its entirety? There is a part in the beginning that tugs at my heartstrings:
“When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the “unalienable Rights” of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. “I Have A Dream” delivered 28 August 1963, at the Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C.
What a simple yet powerful example to express racism. I worked at a bank in the 1980s. No bank would hang on to a check marked “Insufficient” for years. Yet after decades, into a new century and even a new millenium, America is insufficient still. How can that be in the 21st Century?
There comes a time when “insufficient” becomes inadequate. It is intolerable and totally unsatisfactory. That time is now. Today. Especially here in the United States. There is no excuse in the past almost 400 years of our history for any human being in the USA – for any human being on Earth – to have to put up with anything less than respect, kindness, concern and love.This isn’t what is right for our citizens. Not at all. Yet the number of hate groups has increased by 55% since the year 2017 until America can hang its head in shame that there are 940 such groups. The data comes from the SPLC (Southern Poverty Law Center and includes all forms of racism and anti-government groups.
Usually on a Friday night, I am doing anything but watching television. But last night on the news, I watched as Martin Luther King Junior’s son and granddaughter spoke and I am moved by their fervor, their eloquence, their hopefulness. Yolanda King, the little girl, just a year older than I was 57 years ago and far, far and away more mature than I was, is a rock star. What other child can so forecefully, believably and powerfully say the youth of today will fulfill her grandfather’s dream? That dream. That wonderful, necessary, overdue dream. We all need to make it come true.
“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!
And this will be the 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 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.”
I wholeheartedly agree. I hope you do, too.