Written by Veronica Roberts
Monday, January 16, 2012
I think the line most identify with him is "I have a dream." From children today to the "older heads" who lived in his yesteryear, those are the words that come readily to us all.
But his legacy is much more than a dream for I suspect he was no dreamer but rather a 'doer.'. Born Jan. 15, 1929, in Atlanta, Ga., and murdered April 4, 1968, in Memphis, Tenn., Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. represents change, strength, defiance, unity and perseverance. He no longer walk among us but there are many who marched with him, lived the same pain and hope, alive today. Those who experienced that deep, dark, dank part of America's history that he did. Felt the dogs snapping at their heels as the police egged them on. Felt the powerful force of the water hose as fire hydrants were opened full blast to punish them for daring to fight for justice and equality. Felt the intense heat as crosses were burnt on their front lawn, saw the white mask of the shadowy KKK figures as they ran away or stood threateningly near their homes.
Those who stood at the back of the buses, then boycotted in protest of the dehumanizing treatment, walked miles with tired, sore feet to and from work in support of said bus boycott. Those who were turned away from "Whites Only" counters in places like Sears but kept going back in defiance. Those who stood afar and longed to swim in the all-White pools. Live in the all-White neighborhoods. Apply for those all-White jobs or enter the hallowed halls of the all-White colleges and universities.
But he dared to Dream loud and audaciously--where the word Dream went from a noun to a vivid verb. His assassination stopped his body but did not stop the thunderous roar of his spirit for his spirit wasn't alone but echoed in millions of us--all fighting for the same thing.
Dr. King was a radical who stood up to the Establishment. Went to jail. Spoke truth to power. Defied the status quo. There was nothing "peaceful" about his defiance for there cannot be peace without justice.. His fiery spirit, razor-sharp intellect, foibles and strengths, all made the man who led the revolution and catapulted change for decades after he had left us.
One of the quotes I think epitomized The King is, "No document can do this for us, no Lincolnian Emancipation Proclamation can do this for us, no Johnsonian Civil Rights Bill can do this for us, if the negro is to be free, he must move down into the recesses of his own soul and sign with the pen and ink of self-asserted manhood and sign his own proclamation of emancipation..don't let anyone take your manhood..somebody told a lie one day--Black is always described as something evil and White as pure and good....be proud--be Black and beautiful and proud."
So what happened to the Dream? Would he be proud of where we are today? Would he look at America and still say "we need a revolution of values" or would he say we have achieved and exceeded his expectations? what do you think he would say about the political climate in this country today? The rhetoric of the Republican candidates as they stump for votes?
A president with an African father and White mother now sits in the White House. The first ever. Schools are integrated or at least legally if not comparably education wise. No segregated signs line our public pools anymore. We are all free to carve a slice of the "pie."
But some things linger. We have travelled far but have miles to go before we sleep. Plenty to do before we rest.
Our children are killing each other in the inner cities. Our education system is rigged for failure in our poor neighborhoods. Washington is so corrupt that it breathes dysfunction. Unemployment is at an all time high, especially in "Black" communities. Our youth jobless line is even longer. The economy on life-support.
Yes, we have miles to go before we sleep.