On August 28, 1963, a sweaty but enthusiastic crowd gathered in Washington D.C. for the March on Jobs and Freedom. At the time it was the largest demonstration in American history. 250,000 Americans gazed towards the Lincoln Memorial and listened earnestly to the fervent appeals of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. “I have a dream,” Dr. King declared, “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.”
187 years had passed since the adoption of America’s creed in 1776 and Dr. King’s seminal “Dream” speech. 100 years had passed since Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, giving black slaves their first glimmer of hope and freedom. King’s charge that America had yet “to live out the true meaning of its creed” reverberated with an uncomfortable familiarity.
100 years earlier, the same creed referenced by Dr. King to highlight America’s moral imperative to end racism and discrimination had been referenced by another to highlight the nation’s moral imperative to end the institution of slavery. On November 19, 1863, at a cemetery in Gettysburg Pennsylvania, President Lincoln gave his own iconic speech, the Gettysburg Address. Lincoln proclaimed that, “Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” Though a century stood between them, both Dr. King and President Lincoln shared the same deep longing to see America fulfill its promise that ALL men would be heirs to the guarantees of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. More importantly, both believed our founding documents demanded it.
America fought a violent and bloody Civil War to abolish slavery. But one hundred years later black Americans were still denied their God given rights. While the Emancipation Proclamation had lit the flame of hope, that light had been all but extinguished in the century of demoralizing segregation and discrimination, which followed.
Dr. King rose from the darkness and despair and reignited the flame. He raised it high and courageously continued America’s march towards the fulfillment of its promise. In doing so, he restored hope and reminded America of its creed. His strength and conviction were an inspiration to millions and our nation continued its march towards freedom.
On July 2, 1964, one year after delivering his crucial and iconic “Dream” speech, Dr. King stood in the Oval Office of the White House and watched as President Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, prohibiting discrimination based on race, color, religion, or national origin. It was the first of many acts intended to ban racism in America and eventually from the hearts of its citizens. At last America was rising up to live out the true meaning of its creed.
As I reflect on the enduring legacy of Dr. King, I am inspired by the ability of one remarkable American to improve the lives of millions and change the hearts and minds of a nation. His legacy serves as a timeless reminder of mankind’s never ending battle against tyranny and America’s relentless pursuit to fulfill our original charter of freedom and equality for all. Dr. King helped dismantle the legal vestiges of racism and discrimination in America and insured the country he left behind was better than the one he inherited.
But today, 58 years after Dr. King professed his dream for our nation, and continued America’s long march towards freedom and equality for all, the flame of hope he reignited dims once more. Our ship, which raised its anchor from the polluted waters of injustice and oppression in 1776, and charted a new course for freedom, now points its bow back towards the harbor of despotism from which we escaped. The rights and equality Dr. King fought to secure for Americans in his time, are now being taken away from Americans in our time.
A new era of bigotry and discrimination confronts us. Hatred based on the color of one’s skin has been replaced with hatred based on the political philosophy in one’s mind. Racial discrimination has been banned but political discrimination is encouraged and praised. The war to end the social acceptance of oppression and verbal abuse of black Americans has been won, but the social acceptance and approval of the oppression and persecution of conservative Americans has begun.
58 years ago Dr. King dreamed of a day in which “the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.” Today no living man has been either a slave or a slaveholder but let us ask ourselves: how many Democrat voters today are willing to sit down together at the table of brotherhood with those who cast their ballot for Donald Trump?
58 years ago Dr. King professed that the “the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself in exile in his own land.” Today tens of millions of Americans of all races, genders, and religious beliefs find themselves increasingly exiled in their own land because of their political beliefs.
There has never been a more important time than now to revisit the words of Dr. King. His words resonate today with the same urgency and moral truth as they did in 1963. His dream “that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed” is as timeless and virtuous as it was in 1863, when Lincoln said it. Today it is undeniable that America’s march to fulfill its creed has not only paused, but retreats. And as we retreat the dream slips further and further away, like some vanishing apparition in our rearview mirror.
As I reflect on the towering legacy of Dr. King, my mind overflows with a burden of dreams. I have a dream that my Democrat brothers and sisters will one day reject the vicious and hateful language, which drips like venom from the mouths of the media and the Democrat Party.
I have a dream that one day all vulgar and mean spirited attacks will be equally condemned.
I have a dream that the blind, pernicious allegiance to political faction, which hastens our nation’s demise, will be replaced by the enlightened and virtuous allegiance to America.
I have a dream that our nation will rise up and defend the rights of every American, regardless of political beliefs.
I have a dream that the flame of hope, which flickers like a fading light, is reignited once again. That America reaches for our creed, which hangs like the mighty crucifix around our neck, and remembers its promise.
And I have a dream that new leaders will rise from our present darkness and courageously continue our march towards liberty and equality for all.
These are but a few. But until that day, to quote Dr. King, “the whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.”