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Erik Rush has hit the proverbial nail on the head. Sadly, many of those who proclaim Barack Obama’s rise to the presidency as a fulfillment of Dr. King’s dream know little more than bits and pieces of his many marches and speeches. The ’60s were a complex period in our history and cannot be reduced to a series of sound bites.
The Rev. Dr. King recognized that the best change is a gradual change, one that has time to take root and be nurtured carefully. When change is thrust upon one, it is more likely to be resisted. While realizing the time had come for those of color to stand up and be recognized as co-heirs to the American dream of liberty and justice for all, he also realized that if this was to be a lasting accomplishment it must be pursued by peaceful means and actions.
In August of 1963, Martin Luther King gave a speech at the Lincoln Memorial. He spoke to a quarter of a million civil rights supporters, black and white, of his dream of a future where brotherhood between all men was the standard. He acknowledged his dream to be deeply rooted in the American dream. He gave voice to his faith that “we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood.”
He spoke of a time when his children would be judged not “by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” He was mindful of not creating an atmosphere that fostered the need for revenge against real and perceived wrongdoings. He admonished his followers, “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.”
Dr. King was well aware of the real possibility that his dream could be twisted and exploited by those who sought only to advance themselves by drawing on the natural tendency of people to desire retribution from their adversaries. Sadly, some of those people walked by his side and pretended to espouse the virtues of Dr. King’s beliefs while biding their time until they could stir the pot of racial division and bring it to a full boil.
Several months prior to his speech at the Lincoln Memorial, Dr. King was arrested in Birmingham, Ala., for his role in the Birmingham Campaign, a movement to end the city’s segregated policies. While in jail Dr. King wrote a letter to fellow clergymen to address their reservations about the means being used by King and his supporters. He quoted great biblical and historical figures in his argument for the need to change. He warned of a frightening racial nightmare if his white brothers did not heed his nonviolent efforts. Martin Luther King defined his position as standing between those blacks who had become complacent and insensitive and the black nationalist groups that had repudiated Christianity and were fueled by hatred and despair.
Rev. King dreamed of a day when freedom would ring out all over America for all of her people. His dream was that all of God’s children would be able to join hands and sing, “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”
So, what has become of the dream?
For the first time in our history, an African-American stands poised to assume the mantle of the presidency. Is this a fulfillment of Dr. King’s dream, the culmination of the many marches for equality that took place in the ’60s? How did Barack Obama arrive at this position? Did his experience lead him to the race for the presidency? Sadly, no. He is woefully inexperienced for any position of leadership. His time in the Senate has been limited. Being a community organizer does not qualify one for the highest office in the land. Being able to produce sound bites does not qualify one for the highest office in the land. Simply being African-American does not qualify one for the highest office in the land.
However, this last point is the selling point for the Democratic Party. If you don’t support Obama, you must be a (gasp) racist! Democratic leaders openly accused their own constituents of racism in anticipation of their lack of support for the senator from Illinois.
What does this have to do with the dream?
It shows the mindset of those who promote Obama. His virtue lies not in the fact that he is a qualified black man but that he is a good front man for their agenda. Any objections to his presidency are immediately met with cries of racism. This is the club that will be used to beat back any challenges to his qualifications to be president. This is the crutch they extend to those who cannot win by their own merit. It has nothing to do with content of character and everything to do with the color of skin.
Dr. King dreamed of hearing freedom ring out across the land in proclamation of the brotherhood of all men. Instead, all we hear from the Democrats is the maniacal laughter of the power hungry as they seek to take our rights away and impose their will on us.
Is the dream dead?
No, but it is proper poorly. The dream is not partisan, it is not political, it is not a means to an end. And shame on those who treat it as such. It is either a dream for all to fulfill or it will forever fall short of its mark.
Please, America, do not let this vision fade. Push off those who would seek to hijack Dr. King’s dream for their own limited agenda. Restore the dream to its rightful place, a place that transcends party politics and encourages humanity to be ever mindful of the fact that we are all God’s children.