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The Dream Is Being Killed.

Today is the national holiday celebrating the life of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr.’s life had a seismic impact on race relations in the United States. Years after his death, he is the most widely known African-American leader of his era. His life and work have been honored with a national holiday, schools and public buildings named after him, and a memorial on Independence Mall in Washington, D.C. But his life remains controversial as well. In the 1970s, FBI files, released under the Freedom of Information Act, revealed that he was under government surveillance, and suggested his involvement in adulterous relationships and communist influences. Over the years, extensive archival studies have led to a more balanced and comprehensive assessment of his life, portraying him as a complex figure: flawed, fallible and limited in his control over the mass movements with which he was associated, yet a visionary leader who was deeply committed to achieving social justice through nonviolent means.

Some people will look at only his good deeds and view him as some sort of a saint. Some will view him only through his actions of adultery and other sordid acts.

In our opinion, neither is fair nor particularly accurate. There are very few people in the history of the United States who have influenced and inspired so many and for that alone, we should look at the man mostly through his impact.

One of his greatest speeches by far is the well known “I Have A Dream” speech which he delivered on August 28, 1963 as part of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom event. King delivered his speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to the throngs of assembled people of all races and genders.

Part of the speech recounts the vision of a color blind America that King had.

I say to you today, my friends [applause], so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow (Uh-huh), I still have a dream. (Yes) It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. (Yes)

I have a dream (Mhm) that one day (Yes) this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed (Hah): “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” (Yeah, Uh-huh, Hear hear) [applause]

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia (Yes, Talk), 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 (Yes) [applause] that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice (Yeah), sweltering with the heat of oppression (Mhm), will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream (Yeah) [applause] that my four little children (Well) 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. (My Lord) I have a dream today. [enthusiastic applause] (emphasis ours)

The last “dream” has always resonated with us because of its apparent lineage to a verse in the Bible:

There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:28 NIV

If God doesn’t see the color of our skin, why should we?

No matter how we think about the verse, no matter what we think of King, that dream is dying.

It is being killed by those who on one hand say they revere King and on the other hand demand that employers look at the color of a person’s skin. It is being killed by the government who doesn’t look at prices or the quality of work when awarding contracts, but whether the owner of a company is a minority. It is being killed on campuses around the country where blacks and others are demanding “safe spaces” where only people of a certain race can enter. It is being killed by those who oppose the idea that “all lives matter” and not just “black lives matter.” It is being killed by demands for segregated dorms or “learning communities” which are segregated by race. It is being killed by those who hate President Obama for being a black man and by those who voted for him and support him only because he is a black man.

We will never get past racism and its effects until we stop talking about how horrible racism is and yet practicing it, codifying it, taking part in it, and demanding it from others.

The dream is not just dying, it is being killed.



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