Saturday, August 28, 2010

On This Day: Let's Let the Man Speak for Himself

The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his famous "I Have A Dream" speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on this day, 47 years ago.

Posted by: Noel Jones

Not wanting to get caught up in the Beck vs. Sharpton hype of today's news, I looked up Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have A Dream" speech and read it again--as far as I'm concerned, that's all anyone need do to honor the man, aside from, say, some careful introspection as to how genuinely we walk the walk, rather than just talking the talk of standing up for the equality of all American citizens. It is worth asking ourselves, do we stand up and speak up, when we encounter prejudice, either aimed at ourselves or others, or do we make excuses for it, and explain it away, or just pretend it never happened? Do we as a society accept the racial disparity with regard to poverty, education, job opportunities and pay, military enlistment, or incarceration?

Below is the famous speech of the man who was willing to die to spread this message of love and a call to action to move this country forward with regard to race relations. Let's honor him by at least reading what he had to say, rather than letting talk show hosts and pundits tell us what he said and meant. I welcome your comments:
I Have A Dream
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
August 28, 1963

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred
years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. And so we've come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we've come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the "unalienable Rights" of "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked "insufficient funds."

But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so, we've come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.
We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. And those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. And there will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

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. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.

The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a 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 they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom.

We cannot walk alone.

And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead.

We cannot turn back.

There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?" We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the negro's basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their self-hood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating: "For Whites Only." We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until "justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream."

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. And some of you have come from areas where your quest -- quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive. Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed.
Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends.

And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that 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."

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, 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 that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little 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 have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of "interposition" and "nullification" -- one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; "and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together."

This is our hope, and this is the faith that I go back to the South with.

With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

And this will be the day -- this will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with new meaning:
My country 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing.
Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrim's pride,
From every mountainside, let freedom ring!
And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true.
And so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire.
Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York.
Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.
Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado.
Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California.
But not only that:
Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.
Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee.
Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi.
From every mountainside, let freedom ring.
And when this happens, when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:

                Free at last! Free at last!
                Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!


celticwarrior said...

I will get caught up in it. Glen Beck kicked alsharptons ass. Thank God for Glen Beck.

noel jones said...

lovely, since "kicking ass" has so much to do with peace, love, understanding and racial harmony in our nation--the sentiments expressed in Dr. King's speech.

Glenn Beck makes his money by telling racists what they want to believe, and then he laughs all the way to the bank.

i've said it before and i'll say it again. white racists are the laziest people in our country--why? because they want so desperately to believe that they're already better than someone else, just by being born white, without lifting a finger to educate themselves.

somehow they are also so delusional as to wrap themselves in the American flag while spewing hate and claiming to be both Christians, and patriotic--as if Jesus Christ endorsed hate in his time on earth, and as if America, with words inscribed at the foot of the statue of liberty that read, "give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free...send them...the tempest tossed to me" has anything to do with being exclusionary. racism has nothing to do with being patriotic, in fact, racism is Un-American.

the love and inclusion preached by Martin Luther King, Jr. is truly Christian and patriotism at its best.

Anonymous said...

I wonder what MLK would think of what's become of black people in this country, the 70% growing up in a single parent household, "baby daddies", the 85% incarceration rate, the drooping pants, the "gansta" lifestyle, lil wayne, the objectification of women in rap videos, crack use, soaring HIV rate, etc, etc, etc.
MLK's dream has yet to be realized.

celticwarrior said...

anonymous 8:39 And I thought I was the only racist on this sight that new those Anonymous noel jones message is always the same all whites are racist and everyone else is owed something.Its people like her and the alsharptons why the black community has all those problems.Its a nowonder why blacks hate whitey . Im sure mlk would be so happy to see how black kids are acting in centenial park useing the n word being ungrateful for all the hand outs by weed & seed.But thats the racist glen beck crowd thats makeing them act that way. Hay noel why dont you go to Staten Island N.Y. and learn about the rise of hate crimes commited by blacks on illegal mexicans.I just get tired of your one side liberal racist views.

celticwarrior said...

Lets see how long it takes miss jones to delet the truth.

noel jones said...

Dan (celticwarrior), your rantings against illegal Mexicans are well-documented on this blog, but I guess now that you're courting Esther Guzman's favor so that you can still get grant-funded construction jobs through the WWNP, you're now going to make a show of sticking up for illegal immigrants on the blog? As if you didn't drive around for over a month this year with giant white handwriting all over your truck windows blaming illegal immigrants for taking your jobs? You've got plenty of criticism for liberals, but you sure don't mind taking that grant money, do you...and you've always got someone to blame--either blacks, or Latinos, Muslims or liberals, anyone but yourself. Great way to take "personal responsibility."

noel jones said...

Anon 8:39--In answer to your question, I'm sure he would weep--at THOSE black men. However, there are hundreds of thousands of black men in this country achieving far more than the average Tea Partier--I'm sure the election of our president would have given MLK cause to rejoice, as well as any number of black professors, historians, economists, journalists, newscasters, doctors, artists, film makers, teachers, lawyers, judges, representatives and senators, etc.

The interesting thing though, is that depending on who you're talking to, those statistics mean different things. Some people like to think that it proves that black people are bad people and that racism is justified. Others feels it indicates institutionalized racism that has kept a higher percentage of black Americans below the poverty line, and in poorer schools, etc.

What is worth examining here, is the urge to look at a young black man with his pants hanging down and refer to him as if he represents all black men. Where does that desire to believe something that isn't true come from?

And I'm assuming that your 85% statistic refers to the percentage of men in jail that are black, not the percentage of black men who go to jail, which again, points to institutionalized racism--or justified racism--depending on whom you are talking to.

Anonymous said...

Well noel just goes to show how you are this has not a thing to do with ethster guzmans.I would think if she works for wwnp she would be a us citizen but I will not talk about her like you cause it is unfair.but that is what you are all about. Well there is a huge out cry from the black community that illegals are takeing jobs from them. Learn the facts noel. Well must get to work so I can fund those grants that did your house for nothing.

noel jones said...

Yes, Dan (Anon 7:47, this time), you did the facade grant on my house funded by the WWNP--and yes, of course Esther is an American citizen, and you are not about to offend her in person with your opinions of Spanish-speaking illegal immigrants, or how you don't think options should be offered on the phones or on signs in Spanish because you want to keep getting those jobs.

The facade grant is a great program for anyone unemployed or otherwise income-qualified to receive one--it has a positive effect on the block when a run-down house gets spruced up. Too bad the quality of the work wasn't better, but that is not the fault of the agency, who is trusting the contractor to do a good job. That is the personal responsibility of the contractor.

The major difference between my accepting a facade grant and your accepting paid work funded from the same grants is that I do not then go around bad-mouthing the people of the neighborhood that the grants are intended to serve, as you do regularly.

noel jones said...

These posted comments, unfortunately, outline just how far America still is from Dr. King's "dream." It's sad, an unpleasant, but these discussions must be had.

One thing that's sad about it, is that any valid concerns or questions with regard to race, get swept up and obscured by all the vitriol. Just because a racist is afraid that illegal immigrants are taking their jobs, doesn't mean that everyone that is afraid that illegal immigrants might be taking their jobs are racist. Many Americans who are not racist have legitimate concerns about whether or not the American economy in a recession can afford to "support" people from other countries when we can't even seem to afford to take care of our own citizens, with over 30 million uninsured.

But then, that opens up the discussion as to what "support" is--if many illegal immigrants are doing jobs that Americans are unwilling to do--and they are paying taxes on those earnings (which they often are), then it starts to sound like in some cases it is illegal immigrants that are supporting our economy.

I saw a CNN special on this a couple of weeks ago, where the correspondent interviewed an American orchard owner in California, and asked how many Americans applied for the jobs each year, and the answer was zero. It's manual labor in a really hot region for low pay, and the only people that are willing to apply are Mexican immigrants.

Now, others take issue with the number of illegal immigrants on Medicaid, and the expense to the American taxpayer--these are real issues worth discussing, but when they are wrapped up in racism and vitriol the legitimate discussion gets lost, and that's a shame.

We are a nation of immigrants, and America's power has always been borne of its diversity. As one small example, our military would be only half its size if there were no Latino or black citizens allowed. None of our ancestors, except those that are American Natives, originated here, and so none of us aside from natives have any right to point a finger at immigrants.

But we do have a responsibility to weigh concerns and work together to find solutions, and that should be able to be done without the infection of racism. So for those that think that conversations about race are unnecessary--this series of comments is proof that it still is. I doubt Dr. King thought it would take this long--who knows what good would have come if he had been allowed to live and continue his work, rather than being shot down by a racist who felt threatened by a dream as lovely as the one expressed in this speech.

noel jones said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
noel jones said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
noel jones said...

Sorry--had to delete myself because I got a message that the post was too long and that I had to break it into two, then posted the two and it turned out that the first one had already posted in full...blogspot is frustrating sometimes...

carinne said...

Dan and Celtic Warrior- Do either one of you realize that your grammar skills are horrible? If you did not have this awareness, know that I bring it up so you may seek out programs, tutors, or classes that can help you. Also, I would hope you stop posting as to prevent further embarrassing yourself. Whether you are right or wrong about any topic doesn’t even matter when the writing skills executed are that of a 5th grader. Don’t get me wrong. Sometimes I don’t mind hearing the opinions of individuals with a 5th grade education level. That is, when the individual has a disability that prevents them from excelling past that point, or when the individual is in fact, in the 5th grade. Assuming you are both adults with no diagnosed mental retardation, I encourage you to improve yourselves. Starting with your English.

noel jones said...

Dan and Celticwarrior (and Anon 7:47) are one in the same person (as is evident from the grammar and syntax, in addition to references, topic, perspective and antagonism).

I do not mind the bad grammar nearly as much as I mind that he hasn't learned to properly spell the name of the program manager who grants him construction jobs out of our neighborhood nonprofit. That's not a lack of education, that's just lazy and disrespectful. Her name is Esther Guzman. Respect.

celticwarrior said...

carinne you couldnt stand in the same room as I will not waste my time on you.But I will say 300,000 showed up at becks rally.Even Alveda king mlk. niece was there and Albert pujols a ball player. And many other blacks not one hate crime. There was no litter left behind.Now what excuse will you make up for those of color being there.Noel should we blame white folk for the hate crimes commited by blacks on illegal aliens .and would you mean my truck that says a white nun killed by illegal alien where is obama and FN liberals now.But obama says Arizona is a racist state.Most people I talk to dont even know about it.But they herd Arizona is a racist state. And I hope the black community is insulted by you for makeing excuses for there problems.Thats right noel Im proud of my race and have no guilt for the past that I and many of us had notheing to do with.But you keep on useing that to promote your dislike for others.But I know I show you up for the liar you are.And the only one taht will get on here and tell just how it is.And anyone who knows me I tell it like it is in person and dont hyde behind a computor like your sorry liberal ass. God bless and call me what you want. And how many meetings would you go to and put free time in a town you dont live in.

noel jones said...

Dan, you said:

"But I know I show you up for the liar you are."

What 'lie' is that, exactly?

celticwarrior said...

and what jobs did esther did she grant me. get the facts straight.and thats the best you can do.prove to me what I say is wrong.

noel jones said...

if you are no longer working for the WWNP, then i apologize. i have heard that you recently worked with the minority teens from the Easton Children's Home on the 10th Street project for Weed & Seed however, and the idea that anyone with your views would be allowed to work in proximity to minority children for any organization whose mission involves community building in a diverse community, is as appalling as your driving around our neighborhood with racist insults plastered to your truck in the form of bumper stickers and handwriting on your windows, that you yourself have outlined here in your comments to the blog.

i am glad to know that you are no longer working with the WWNP and apologize if i suggested as much if it is no longer true.

i still don't know why you would continue to antagonize the people of this neighborhood with your truck and your words if it's not for the construction jobs, when you don't even live here--unless it's for the sheer pleasure of harassment, which is illegal. you're certainly not doing it out of a love for the diverse community who lives here. or if you think you are, you have a strange idea of what love is.

celticwarrior said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
celticwarrior said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
celticwarrior said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
celticwarrior said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
noel jones said...

Dan, this is an official request that you stop posting to this blog and do not contact me in any way.