It has been 50 years since Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke the iconic words “I have a dream” in a speech delivered on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. This speech encapsulates all that Dr. King spent his adult life fighting for: equality for all black men and women in America.
Dr. King is in the extraordinary company of only a handful of men and women in this country whose words are more indelible and meaningful including Presidents John F. Kennedy and Abraham Lincoln. It does not take a scholarly person to see that these three men were vastly different yet the same in so many ways.
All believed in serving the people. All believed in hard work and self-reliance. All believed in making America a better place to live and prosper for future generations.
Indeed, in President Kennedy’s 1960 inaugural address he urged all Americans to, “…ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” The Emancipation Proclamation authored by President Lincoln declared, “And I hereby enjoin upon the people so declared to be free to abstain from all violence, unless in necessary self-defence [sic]; and I recommend to them that, in all cases when allowed, they labor faithfully for reasonable wages.”
So what would Martin Luther King, Jr. say today? One can only surmise.
No doubt he would say that he is pleased with the number of unprecedented accomplishments and opportunities deservedly afforded black Americans, including the election of the first black president. No doubt he would be saddened at the lives lost by the selfless acts of valor of men and women in the armed forces but encouraged at the number of blacks who have risen to the highest military ranks.
No doubt he would say that he is angry, too. Presidents Kennedy and Lincoln probably would be as well. Most likely they would be outraged at the utter disrespect shown by some at the shedding of blood, sweat and tears of countless fellow Americans – including their own – so that all Americans could be free to work hard, to get an education and to attain the American Dream.
150 years following the ratification of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, a small but nonetheless powerful portion of America’s black population remain enslaved. Illegal drugs, promiscuity and lack of education are at the root of their demise. For the addicted there is little hope.
Today, over 70% of all black American babies are born out of wedlock. While some mothers choose to be single parents and have the financial means to support and educate their children, the majority of these babies are born to absentee fathers and young mothers with no means to raise them.
Through no fault of their own these children find themselves living in chaotic environments with little to no chance of escaping the bondage they endure because of their parents’ actions. All one has to do to see into their futures is look at their pasts. This is the life that awaits each and every child, and future generations, unless something is done to stop, once and for all, the proliferation of these destructive lifestyles.
The concern is, and must always be, for the children. Every sane person in America was heartbroken at the deaths of the children in CT but so many Americans don't have a clue or are indifferent when little black children are gunned down, are sexually or physically abused by intoxicated parents or die at the hands of drugs or neglect. Many will never see their first birthday. Hundreds across America will go to bed hungry and afraid.
As a result every citizen – every man, woman and child in America – suffers either physically, emotionally, and/or financially. These shackles are not made of iron. They are virtual and breakable. The time has come again to ask not what your country can do for you, to proclaim emancipation for all Americans and set them free to be on a path to honor and responsibility. The time has come America to again say, I have a dream.