Does the King Monument Awaken His Dream?”
by Dina Estelle Williams
On January 20, 2009, a day after the King Holiday, a dream became a reality when Barack Obama was inaugurated as the 44th President of the United States of America. And now, 48 years after his renowned “I Have a Dream” speech, the late great Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. rightfully receives his own monument in the nation’s capital.
Dr. King proclaimed that 1963 was not an end, but a beginning. And August 28, 2011, marks a new beginning. A dream, though sometimes deferred, can become a reality. This is not the time to sleep on Dr. King’s dream. Wake up! We must continue to strive, thrive, and keep the dream alive, remembering “it takes teamwork to make the dream work.”
King talked how in 1963:
- “The life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination.”
- “The Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity.”
- “The Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land.”
- “The Negro still is not free.”
Since 1963, though we sometimes digress, and some situations are still a mess, there has been some progress. Nevertheless, we must continue on this quest and not rest until we reach success. Forty-eight years later, regrettably, we still undergo racial stress.
- 48 years later, Blacks can check-in most any hotel (though may not be economically well).
- 48 years later, “For White Only” signs are not physically posted (though may be mentally noted).
- 48 years later, Blacks can vote at any election (though may not participate with any selection).
MLK wanted freedom to ring:
- “from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire.” Nevertheless, New Hampshire, the last U.S. state to recognize Martin Luther King Jr. Day as an official holiday, has one of the smallest Black populations of any state. According to the 2010 U.S. Census Bureau, New Hampshire is 93.9% White. This is not to say it’s racist, but it sure ain’t diverse.
- “from the mighty mountains of New York.” Some believe the unalienable rights of life liberty and the pursuit of happiness were upheld when New York legalized same sex marriage on July 24, 2011. Even so, is freedom really ringing in the New York City public school system, the largest in the country, responsible for the education of more than 1.1 million students housed in 1,700 schools? Though 70 percent of students in the system are Black and Hispanic, they are sadly underrepresented in the specialized high schools of NYC. And then you have four White students at the elite Stuyvesant High School in NYC post a video on Facebook with racist, anti-Semitic, and anti-women lyrics in March 2011.
- “from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.” A lot of freedom to belong is going on in the Keystone State. The Southern Poverty Law Center, a nonprofit organization specializing in fighting hate, teaching tolerance, and seeking justice, lists 36 hate groups in Pennsylvania. Included in that list is radical Catholicism, White nationalists, anti-Muslim, skinheads, Black separatists, neo-Nazis, and the Ku Klux Klan.
- “from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado.” Freedom of the mouth was ringing August 1, 2011, when Colorado Republican Representative, Doug Lamborn, compared President Obama’s policies to a “tar baby.” He apologized, though, stating he meant to use the similarly sounding word, “quagmire.”
- “from the curvaceous slops of Califonia.” Did freedom ring when three White women were savagely assaulted, taunted, and beaten unconscious on Halloween 2006 in Long Beach, CA by as many as 40 Blacks who declared their hatred of Whites? Ten were arrested, nine convicted of hate crimes. The attackers got probation, and the Black community sued Long Beach for violating their “civil rights.”
- “from Stone Mountain of Georgia.” Freedom rang in Georgia on November 4, 1997, when Chuck E. Burris became the first Black mayor of Stone Mountain, the birthplace of Ku Klux Klan. Ironically, Burris bought the same house where former Stone Mountain mayor and KKK wizard, James R. Venable, lived most of his life.
- “from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee.” Liberty bells did not chime on a Black couple who were about to close on a vacation home in Lebanon, TN in June 2010. The couple found a drawing of a man hanging from a noose and a racial epithet sketched on the property’s masonry entrance.
- “from every hill and molehill of Mississippi.” Sadly, on June 25, 2011, in Jackson, MS, James Craig Anderson was freed from living on earth after being brutully beaten by a group of White teenagers, and then fatally mowed over with the attacker’s truck–just because he was Black.
Dr. King refused to believe “that the bank of justice is bankrupt,” and there are “insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of ths nation.” According to the U.S. Census, nevertheless, 43.6 million people, or 1 in 7 Americans, lived in poverty in 2009, up from 39.8 million in 2008.
The question is if we get a check, can we actually cash it? And with the country’s credit rating recentl reduced, can we really charge our probems to the country?
America appears to be bankrupt, having a tough time balancing bills and budgets. Despite tons of citizens being “broke, busted, disgusted, and not to be trusted,” now is NOT the time for us us to have nightmares. Now is the time for us to cash in on our dreams.
State and County QuickFacts – New Hampshire, http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/33000.html
Kevin Sack. “Birthplace of Klan chooses a Black mayor,” New York Times, November 22, 1997.
Southern Poverty Law Center. .http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/hate-map#s=PA
Lauri Apple. “Sick of Arizona Hatreds? Here’s Some Tennessee Hatreds,” Wonkette, June 25, 2010.
Poverty: 2008 and 2009 – American Community Survey Briefs, Issued September 2010, http://www.census.gov/prod/2010pubs/acsbr09-1.pdf
New York City Department of Education, http://schools.nyc.gov/AboutUs/default.htm.
Elinor Tatum. “Blacks not wanted in New York’s elite high schools,” New York Amsterdam News. May 11, 2011.
Selena Hill. “Racism 101,” New York Amsterdam News. March 9, 2011.
Lewis Loflin. Long Beach Hate Crime Travesty (Compilation) Compiled by Lewis Loflin (BristolBlog.com) .http://www.sullivan-county.com/wcva/salt_lake.htm
Becky Brittain. “U.S. representative apologizes for ‘tar baby’ comment,” CNN Politics, August 2, 2011.