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August 30, 2013

50 Years Late, Dr. King’s Dream

Joe Charlebois

What has changed since 1963? Not much if you listen to the speakers at the Let Freedom Ring Commemoration of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I have a Dream” speech. The 50th anniversary celebration was a wasted opportunity to celebrate one of the greatest leaders of the 20th century.


Instead of focusing on the greatness of the man, speakers focused on the “injustices” that are levied against the black community as a whole. Little was spoken about the triumphs of the civil rights movement; rather it focused on misdirected demands.


Dr. King, who led the fledgling civil rights revolution against the stubborn prejudices and racism of an American culture that still treated blacks as inferior, addressed many things in his speech that day.


He spoke out about ending police brutality; access for all who seek lodging; opportunities for upward mobility, desegregation of public facilities; and equal access to the voting booth.


He spoke eloquently of his dream of “little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.”


He spoke of a dream where “…all God’s children – black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics – will be able to join hands …”


One must ask – “Where in America haven’t these dreams been met?"


The short answer is they have with varying levels of success over the decades. As sure as these goals have been attained, there will certainly be incidents of discrimination along racial, ethnic and religious lines as long as there is man on earth. But the core of Dr. King’s dream was the acceptance of blacks into the American community.


As just one example of how Americans have changed in the past 50 years is shown in a Gallup poll released in 2007. It showed that nearly 80% of those surveyed approved of interracial marriage as opposed to 94% disapproving and only 4% approving in 1958.


The question of acceptance as equals has been settled. The black community has made larger strides in the shortest amount of time than any other group in recorded time. From the era of slavery to the Emancipation Proclamation and Civil Rights Act of 1866, to the Civil Rights Acts of 1957, 1960, 1964, 1968 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the American people have spoken.


The Voting Rights of 1965 and contemporary Supreme Court decisions mandated the concept of “one man, one vote” which brought discriminatory election practices to an end.


Is everything fine? No, it is not. In the last 50 years, the out-of- wedlock birth rate among blacks jumped from one in every five to a rate of three in every four; it’s not fine. When nearly 40% of black children grow up in poverty, it’s not fine. When black men over the age of 20 have an unemployment rate that is at a near 50 year high, it’s not fine. When nearly 16% of black men have ever been incarcerated in a state or federal prison, it’s not fine. (The Moynihan Report Revisited, 2013 – Acs, G.)


If there is any institutional discrimination that still exists, it is within the radicalized teacher unions and progressive leaders who continue to treat black people as victims.


Attentive parents who seek to have their children escape the cycle of poverty are forced into failing schools. They have been offered opportunities in cities across the United States in the form of school choice vouchers. The parents and children who have taken advantage of school choice end up in better schools, are better educated and flourish.


Regrettably some of the same progressive teachers union leaders, who claim to want to break the cycle of poverty, are allied with like-minded politicians who fight every advancement that the school choice proponents make. It is all an attempt to keep the unions flush and conceal how ineffective many of these failing public school systems are.


Another important piece of the puzzle is the fact that for five decades progressive leaders have incentivized single parent homes and unemployment with payments that exceed what could be made in the workforce. When it is financially beneficial to remain a single parent or stay home instead of work, it creates a state of dependency and governmental control.


These are not the dreams that Dr. King had. He dreamt of racial harmony and the emergence of a color-blind society.


The fruit borne of Dr. King, as well as other civil rights leader’s efforts, has resulted in an end to the overt police brutality illustrated by the fire hoses and police dogs of the past. Blacks are no longer turned away from lodging, nor are they subject to segregated public facilities. They attend the most prestigious schools and universities through the United States; and, in many cases, are actually beneficiaries of proactive acceptance and hiring practices. They have reached the astronomical levels of financial success in the form of Oprah Winfrey and Robert Johnson. They have reached the pinnacle in the arts and entertainment community. They have reached the highest levels of public service, including the White House.


Much has changed since Dr. King’s speech in regards to equality, but the underlying issues facing blacks of today are in many ways worse than 50 years ago. Until educational and elected officials realize that they stand in the way of opportunity with their condescending views, black community progress will be slow indeed.


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