Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Anniversary: I Have a Dream And What It Means Today

Today is the 50th anniversary of the March On Washington For Jobs and Freedom that took place back in 1963 (seven years before I was born).  One of the largest protests formed in American history - with roughly 200,000 to 300,000 in attendance - it was a combination of two major issues: civil rights and economic rights.  .

When Reverend Martin Luther King Jr spoke, it wasn't immediately recognized in the papers even though the television coverage gave it a lot of attention.

And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.
I have a dream 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."
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
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!
I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of "interposition" and "nullification" -- one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers. I have a dream today! 
I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; "and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together."
This is our hope, and this is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day. 
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...

And so where are we 50 years later?

In terms of social equality across the board, we're not there yet.

In terms of economic equality, given the Great Recession we're in, we as a whole nation - white, black, Hispanic, Asian, native, man, woman - are royally screwed if we're not in the upper 1 Percent bracket.

In terms of electoral equality, we as a nation and blacks and Hispanics and the college-age and a lot of women are well and truly screwed.  The Supreme Court just defanged the Voting Rights Act and a good number of states - North Carolina, Texas, Mississippi, FloridaSouth Carolina and even Pennsylvania now for God's sake - where the social conservatives (aka Far Right Republicans) hold all the power are going out of their way to make it harder for people to vote using arguments about voting fraud that have no evidence.

In terms of day-to-day, the crime of Walking While Black has led to Fourth Amendment violations and in some cases open hunting season.

In terms of America becoming the great nation it keeps telling itself it can be, we're still stuck where we were 50 years ago.  Electing a black man to the Presidency seems like another country now, doesn't it.

We can be better than this if we as a nation can give up the hate and fear that's driving a lot of the wingnut bullsh-t.  We're living a dream that's all wrong, more nightmare than hope.  We as a nation have got to wake up from that.  It doesn't have to be a dream: it has to be just freaking common sense and decency.

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