Thursday, April 03, 2008

The Dream Speech

We come to the anniversary of the assassination of Reverend Martin Luther King, and of course, it is folded into the current political contests. That is understandable. Regardless of what we pretend, race and gender are twin elephants in this room. The story of gender is so old we can barely tell it. The story of race is very fresh in my mind. I was born in 1954 and grew up in Alabama. That story circumscribes my life tightly.

It's a story with many sides. Media, movies, popular books, etc., tend to tell only one. That would be the real value of The Conversation: to get all the stories out where all sides can hear them and maybe understand the demons each has living inside them to this day.

We didn't get over racism. We decided to do everything in our power to keep it from being passed on to our children.

I have a dream that one day the state of Alabama, whose governor's lips are presently dripping with the words of interposition and nullification, will be transformed into a situation where little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls and walk together as sisters and brothers.

We found out too late, they pass it on to each other. But this much is true: our children in Alabama play together today and no one gets in their way. Whatever we could not fix in the inequalities of wealth, we've done a lot for opportunity and equality before the law. While there are exceptions, we do live together peacefully.

The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny and their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.

Things have changed. Responsibilities have shifted. This is where Obama and I agree.

I have a dream that my four 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 can't get past Obama attending Trinity with his family for twenty years and denying he knew what his pastor was on about. I can't understand a man exposing his children to so much racist rhetoric unless this is the way he wants them to perceive the world they live in today. There are so many contradictions in his character, one wonders if the demons he is wrestling with will get the better of him.

But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.

Amen, Reverend King. Amen.

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