Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream. A dream in which “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.'”
We’re not there yet.
As we celebrate Dr. King’s life, and commemorate his efforts, we find ourselves in the midst of many of the same trials faced by him fifty years ago – discrimination, voter suppression, systemic-induced poverty. Many, if not most, of us are still Looking for Martin Luther King’s Dream.
To be honest, it’s an embarrassment to America that over 150 years since the Emancipation Proclamation and over 50 years since the Civil Rights Acts we are still fighting many of the same battles. In some ways it isn’t a surprise; the election of our first African-American president brought to surface the barely concealed weapons of bigotry just as the election of another tall president from Illinois brought to surface the inherent racism of the slaveholders a sesquicentennial ago. It is shocking that it still exists. And yet it does.
These ills aren’t limited to the African-American community. Bigotry directly effects other minority groups, women, LGBT Americans, Muslims, veterans, the poor, and virtually every other person that doesn’t fit the bigot’s view of “the right kind of American.” Often that bigotry is blind to the adverse effects it has on the bigot himself.
With these caveats in mind, the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday is a good time to reflect. President Obama has again called for this day to be a national day of service, where people don’t just take a day off, they take a day on…giving volunteer service to their communities. Dr. King would have approved.
Abraham Lincoln would have agreed as well. In his Gettysburg Address he advised us “to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced.” Dr. King’s dream has not yet come to fruition. It behooves all of us to dedicate ourselves to his unfinished work.
Other MLK-related posts:
David J. Kent has been a scientist for thirty-five years, is an avid science traveler, and an independent Abraham Lincoln historian. He is the author of Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity (now in its 5th printing) and two e-books: Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time and Abraham Lincoln and Nikola Tesla: Connected by Fate. His book on Thomas Edison is due in Barnes and Noble stores in spring 2016.