Today we commemorate the 50 year anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s famous “I have a Dream” speech. His 19 minute oration has been deemed by many to be the single most important speech in American history.
President Obama will give an address from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial; the very spot where Rev. King stood a half century ago. The president will note that his standing there behind the presidential seal is the embodiment of the sacrifice of those who came before him; and that if not for Dr. King, and Medgar Evers, and John Louis he would not be standing there today. He will tell us that his very presence behind that seal is a testament to how far we have come in such a very short time. He will caution us that we still have far to go.
We will applaud and pat ourselves on the back for our righteous benevolence. For today we celebrate the tangible evidence that this is the land of equal opportunity.
Or is it?
50 years ago Dr. King dreamed of a day when: “all God’s children, black men and white men, Jews, Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, Free at last! Free at last! Thank God almighty, we are free at last.”
Two hundred and thirty seven years ago Thomas Jefferson wrote: “We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights. That among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” We further proclaim ourselves to be “one nation under God, with liberty and justice for all.” These words form the cornerstone of our society.
While Dr. King and Mr. Jefferson’s words are indeed powerful, they pale in comparison to utterances of a simple carpenter a very long time ago.
Two thousand years ago a man who billions believe to be the reincarnation of God himself said: “whatever you do unto the least of my brethren, you do unto me.”
We claim to be a God fearing people. Our treatment of “the least of our brethren” would say otherwise.
With all due respect to President Obama and Dr. King, we have NOT come very far in a short period of time.
We have barely scratched the surface.