How far have we come since that speech was given by Dr. Martin Luther King almost 47 years ago?  Has Dr. King’s dream been fulfilled or even come close?  Has prejudice been stamped out or is it seething right beneath the surface?  The term ‘racism’ is still thrown about, perhaps more than it was during Dr. King’s day.  Has it become a catch all? 

Stop! Doesn’t having an African-American president satisfy the dream?   We no longer have segregation.  Or do we?  Is there invisible segregation and if so, whose fault is it?  Perhaps we don’t even want to answer these questions.  Perhaps they make us as uncomfortable as discussing what Harry Reid meant by ‘Negro dialect.’

Finally, could the door to equality have ever been opened through the legislative process?  Was it necessary for the Courts  to open the door?   I remember seeing “Impeach Earl Warren” signs as a kid.  Were those the forerunners of the expression’ Judicial activism?’

For those of us who missed the speech in August, 1963…

Full Text of “I have a Dream”

20 Thoughts to “The “I Have a Dream” Speech–Has the Dream Come True?”

  1. Emma

    I think the average person has moved on and is able to look beyond race. I see the problem largely in the race-baiting media that often highlights and encourages a victimhood mentality in order to forward some kind of agenda or other. I don’t think you can totally erase racism from human minds, but I do believe the society at large has advanced significantly. We’ve had kids of all colors running in and out of our house over the years without anyone giving it a second thought. And a man of color sits in the White House.

    Now, if we ever see a woman in that seat, then I will be believe we have really evolved.

  2. Today is a great opportunity to see how far we’ve come through the voices of our own children.

    The Martin Luther King Jr. Oratorical Program takes place today, starting at 11 a.m. at the 3500-seat Hylton Memorial Chapel on Potomac Mills Road.

    The theme this year is “The Global Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King” and it’s put on by the PWC Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.

    I encourage everyone who can, to go and hear speeches by youth competing in grades 6 through 12 and great music by a community choir of children in grades K-12 who have been rehearsing just for this celebration.

    I had the opportunity to hear a previous year’s winner repeat her speech at a Unity in the Community meeting and it was absolutely electrifying. Go!

  3. Elena

    Everytime I watch that speech my eyes well up. I do not believe we are society that fully judges by Martin Luther King’s standard. We have not yet achieved “judge people by the content of their character and not their skin”. Immigration has surely demonstrated that we have a long way to go. Rush Limbaugh shows us we have a long way to go. No, we have not climbed the mountain fully. Economic disparity still exists, surely that explains the unequal number of minorities represented in prison. Where there is poverty, there are school systems suffering and children “left behind”. We have come along way, but we are not there yet.

  4. […] Anti-BVBL » The “I Have A Dream” Speech–Has The Dream Come True?How far have we come since that speech was given by Dr. Martin Luther King almost 47 years… […]

  5. Witness Too

    I agree Elena. It is still a dream, but we are getting so much closer. I think the fact that there is such a rabid sense of fear and paranoia on the far right is an indication of, not only how close we are to achieving the good Dr. King’s dream, but how inevitable it is.

  6. Poor Richard

    Dr. King was able to dislodge strong long established
    logjams blocking the progress of millions of people through the
    power and tools of nonviolence. It would have been
    so easy to respond to hate and brutality with hate and
    brutality. He is truly one of the great leaders of American history.

  7. Wolverine

    I’m not sure we will ever get there completely. The Flemish and the French-speaking Belgians have been living next to each other or intermingled in large cities for a thousand years; and that nation is still divided in many ways by culture, language, and historical memories. Many of the Basques still want to be apart from the Spanish after multiple centuries of sharing the same peninsula. I’ve been places where sometimes I could only tell Africans apart by the decorative scars on their faces; but, despite their more or less identical color and features, the tribal differences always seemed to surface at some point — sadly, sometimes with violence.

    Perhaps the best we can hope for is to reach a workable level of comity through law and the enforcement of those laws on an evenhanded basis. Human actions can be governed by law, but human feelings are much harder to codify and change. I also tend to believe that Elena’s points about economic disparity, the ethnic population ratios in prisons, etc. are important. The law needs to be assisted by a proverbial economic raising of all boats on the tide. Those two have to work together and be fair to all sides or the path to comity becomes all the more difficult.

    Finally, it is my personal opinion that we have tended to mix the idea of race with behavior or, conversely, to assume the presence of attitude based on color or ethnicity. Some simple examples. The gangs in our town tend to be largely Hispanic. Conclusion: Hispanics always seem to be lawbreakers or scofflaws. Or, that guy over there is White. If something bad happens to me and mine, it is because the Whites are mostly or all racist and do things which militate against my well-being and success. Or that guy walking down our street is Black. Watch out. He may be looking for someone to mug. (Even Jesse Jackson once admitted to having such feelings.)

    Somehow we have to find a way to separate the race from the behavior. We have to arrive at a point where the Whites do not say that Blacks and Hispanics tend toward certain behaviors or Blacks and Hispanics do not point to Whites as natural born racists. We have to put together a scenario where Whites, Blacks, and Hispanics together (as well as others) can point to an individual engaged in bad behavior and condemn that individual in unison, whether he is White, Black, Hispanic, or anything else. We have to get away from both automatic condemnation because of race and automatic defense because of race. I guess you could say that this matches MLK’s expressed desire.

    Can we do that? Well, something really surprised me. Because of my personal background in investigative and police work, I became the principal Neighborhood Watch patrol person at a time when my community was suffering from crime and bad behavior. I found that there was, indeed, an inter-racial comity out there on my streets consisting of the “good guys” of whatever ethnicity against the “bad guys” of whatever ethnicity. In my opinion, this was based on two things: (1) a common desire to live with a sense of peace and personal security; and (2) an economic desire not to see an important possession, one’s home, decline in value because of the bad behavior of others. In fact, I have received more “leads” and complaints from residents of ethnicities different from my own than I have from guys with my same skin color. My conclusion is that, if you stop the bad behavior through law and united citizen involvement, you will begin to put an end to automatic assumptions because of race or ethnicity.

    In effect, I think you have to translate this from the streets of my suburban development to the country at large. We not only have to end any KKK-type mentality but also put a stop to what some, including actor Bill Cosby, are calling the “poverty pimps.” We not only have to stop deprecating all Hispanics because of the gangbangers and other criminals; but some Hispanics have also got to stop parading through our streets waving foreign flags and crying that the gringos are evil racists and the real intruders in North America, that they, the Hispanics, are the ones who own this land because of their ethnic orgins. We have to insist that our media, whether they are straight news reporters or columnists or TV/radio commentators anywhere on the political spectrum, stop looking for a racial factor in so many stories and so many incidents and playing their own sort of “race card” to achieve an audience. This includes commentators on the Left and the Right. And all of us have got to stop doing unfair things like claiming George W. Bush did not respond quickly enough to Katrina because most of the victims were Black or that President Obama jumped so quickly on the Haiti crisis BECAUSE the victims are largely Black. That’s a dastardly insult to both of these men.

    And sometimes I think we ought to stop making such a big deal about Obama being the first Black President. He was, indeed, the first person with Black racial characteristics to achieve that office and it was, indeed, an historical milestone. But he is also half-White, so can we not simply split the difference and call him “The Man in Charge”? Personally, among my own grandchildren I count an adopted grandson who is half-Black and Half-White and two blood grandchildren who are half-White and half-Hispanic. The day I would ever refer to the first as my Black grandson and the latter as my Hispanic grandchildren is the day I would start kicking myself in the ass all around the block. They are simply kids and they are mine. Grandpa tickles them and teases them and hugs them as much as the other grandkids to a point where they do not yet see themselves as someone racially apart from the rest of the family.

    Chest puffing on my part? Nah. Just some lessons learned in life. I was once a teacher in a school where every other teacher and every student was Black. I was once the only White man working on a police force composed entirely of Blacks. I was the big, educated, and supposedly “rich” American; but I came to understand that these people had my life and my well-being in their hands and they were willing to let me play a part in their world. In fact, there was the time when a crazy guy had a machine gun jammed into my ear on a dark street, ready to pull the trigger, and my life was saved by one of those Black men. Something like that drives racial thoughts out of your consciousness in a real hurry.

    And then I found out that my own father, a simple factory worker who was a fundamentalist Christian and a conservative Republican, found himself in a position where he had the power to finally break the unwritten housing color line in our northern industrial town and did so where others on either end of the pollitical spectrum declined that opportunity. He lost a lot of friends because of that, both Democrat and Republican; but you open your eyes when you are with an ageing old conservative fellow in the supermarket or other public venue and people of color seek him out deliberately to shake his hand and ask him how he is doing in his retirement. Not long before he passed away, I had the opportunity to ask him why he had made that decision. He told me simply: “The housing color line was wrong and unjust, and it was my Christian duty to end it.” All life ought to be like that, I think.

  8. Juturna

    I think we have moved pretty far along with regard to acceptance… most people are comfortable with people like them and I think most people are far more comfortable with various races that think like they do – values, priorities, education override race in a lot of circles, particularly on sports fields and school events.

    Where we are stuck is being afraid to point out a problem if it involves a minority.

  9. What a great thread this is turing in to. Juturna, I think you are very much right about people being afraid to point out a problem. That solves nothing.

    Wolverine, I am pretty much blown away by what you wrote. If we could bottle your feelings we would have world peace. Your sentiments certainly do not stop at our borders. I can see the Ireland/British problem gone, Palestine/Israel gone. Wolverine for UN ambassador!

  10. Slowpoke Rodriguez

    I don’t think the dream has come true yet, but I believe things have moved forward, and will continue to move forward.

  11. Wolverine

    This has got to become one of my favorite stories out of the Haitian tragedy. The Israeli Army has set up a field hospital near Port-au-Prince. A 24-year-old Haitian school teacher has just given birth there to one of the first babies born after the quake. When asked what she had named the baby, she replied: “Israel.” Hands across the sea to be sure.

  12. Poor Richard

    Good, thoughtful comments Wolverine. Thank you.

  13. Definitely some things to think about. Wolverine, I really appreciate the time you took to give us that wonderful response.

  14. […] Anti-BVBL » The “I Have a Dream” Speech–Has the Dream Come True?How far have we come since that speech was given by Dr. Martin Luther King almost 47 years ago? Has Dr. King’s dream been fulfilled or even come close? Has prejudice been stamped out or is it seething right beneath the surface? … Read more […]

  15. GainesvilleResident

    Wolverine :
    This has got to become one of my favorite stories out of the Haitian tragedy. The Israeli Army has set up a field hospital near Port-au-Prince. A 24-year-old Haitian school teacher has just given birth there to one of the first babies born after the quake. When asked what she had named the baby, she replied: “Israel.” Hands across the sea to be sure.

    Indeed, the Israeli Defense Force has a long history of deploying to countries in need of assistance. In some earlier thread on Haiti I posted a video just about that, and the fact they were in the process of deploying to Haiti. That is a great story though.

  16. GainesvilleResident

    Actually, this is what I was referring to –

  17. GainesvilleResident

    Wolverine :
    I’m not sure we will ever get there completely. The Flemish and the French-speaking Belgians have been living next to each other or intermingled in large cities for a thousand years; and that nation is still divided in many ways by culture, language, and historical memories.

    I know someone in Belgium and they are Flemish – and sometimes they will speak Flemish and the other person will answer in French and vice versa. Neither one really wants to speak the other’s language even though both are fluent in it. Belgium is a very interesting case.

  18. It’s not just about race anymore. It’s about making the “dream” available to all. Right now, it isn’t.

    Those in lower in socio-economic brackets can’t get out. Those who appear “illegal” can’t get out. Those who are part of unpopular ethnic communities, such as Hispanic communities, can’t get out.

    Until the “dream” is accessible to all, we still have ‘miles to go before we sleep.’

  19. Wolverine

    Gainesville Resident, you are right about Belgium being an interesting case. My wife’s paternal ancestry is Flemish, so I have had a chance to study that culture in depth. About the time her great-grandfather was born in West Flanders, that part of Europe, once the earliest heartland of the Salian Frankish empire of the Merovingian kings, had been so overrun by foreign powers that the people had lost their pride of culture and self. The upper levels of society spoke French. Below them the people spoke the Flemish dialect of Netherlandic, which was no longer a written language; and, at that level, education was practically non-existent. The great-grandfather, once a weaver of linen who had lost his craft to industrialization, lived in a town of about 800. They were so poor that, during the 1840’s, over 60 per cent of the town’s population was fed at government and church soup kitchens. Over the next three or four decades, almost half the population of the town packed up and left for America.

    But there is a story of this period which applies perhaps to the thoughts expressed by Pinko in #16 about climbing out of poverty and despair. There was a young Flemish non-commissioned officer in the Belgian Army named Hendrik Conscience. He was educated and a scion of the small upper class in Flanders who eventually became a private tutor to the children of the King of the Belgians. But he yearned to become a writer with a goal of restoring pride to the Flemish people. He did not want to write in French, the language of conquest and the upper classes. He did not want to write in standard Netherlandic because that would make him just another Dutch author. So he went back into the ancient manuscripts of Flanders and found what he could of the old language from the period when Flanders was still free. He took those snippets and the contemporary dialects and, for all intents and purposes, re-created the Flemish written language. He then wrote the historical novel called “The Lion of Flanders” which portrayed the 14th century defeat at Kortrijk (Courtrai) by Flemish workers-turned-militia of a French army of mounted knights and infantry which outnumbered the Flemish two-to-one. The flower of French knighthood and nobility died in that battle. Conscience wrote all that in the new Flemish he had created.

    When that book was published, the father of Conscience was furious because his son had shamed the family by writing not in French but in the language of the lower classes. The father threw his son out. The son, however, refused to give in. He continued to write novels in Flemish with an emphasis on Flemish history and culture. And then a miracle happened. In villages and towns all across Flanders, the few Flemish who were literate began to read Conscience’s novels to their illiterate families, friends, and fellow citizens. The novels sparked a renewal of pride in culture and a desire for education. Flanders began to be reborn. It was later said of Conscience that , through his writing and determination, he had taught his own people to read. And then came that day when the King of the Belgians himself gave a public speech in Flemish. When he died, Conscience, a writer of novels and later a curator of museums, was given a state funeral through the streets of Brussels. Over time and with a long, continued battle for recognition, the Flemish language eventually became the official language of Flanders in a bi-lingual country and being Flemish became a point of pride. That is a good example of Pinko’s “dream” coming true; but, alas, also the source of the scenario described by Gainesville Resident in his #15.

  20. Wow, Wolverine. What a great story about a man with a great name and a greater mission.

    Funny how the voice of the common people is dismissed as “vulgar” (Latin origin for gauche speech).

    Or not very funny, as it may be.

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