Today is Martin Luther King Day, a national holiday celebrating one of our greatest American heroes. On Saturday, had he lived, he would have been 93 years old.
Usually, the more time goes by after the death of a loved one the more our grief diminishes. But I have always felt that with President Kennedy, his brother Bobby, and Martin Luther King Jr. as well, the more years go by since their deaths the more painful it becomes. Why? Because everything we feared would happen when they left us, has happened.
All three men carried aloft in American society the idea that our highest aspirations could be effectuated. They articulated visions for our country that seemed possible because they told us so. They explained, they motivated, they inspired us to reach for what was not yet happening, but which they made us believe could still yet be. And that is why their deaths were so painful. The bullets that killed them did not just strike down their bodies. Those bullets struck down our dreams.
Yet dreams can be resurrected, and one of the reasons a national holiday celebrating Dr. King’s birth is so important is because it calls us to revisit the dream that Dr. King espoused. A dream of racial, political and economic justice; a dream of the beloved community; a dream of a world at peace. Dr. King died at the hands of an assassin, but the dreams die only if we refuse to give them life.
Five score years ago a great American in whose symbolic shadow we stand today signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree is 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 100 years later the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later the life of the Negro is still badly 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 in exile in his own land. 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. . . .
We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protests to degenerate into physical violence. . . . must not lead us to distrust 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.
. . . 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 adulthood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating “For Whites Only.”
We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and the 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 say to you today, my friends, though, 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, live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” (ALL HUMAN BEINGS ARE CREATED EQUAL NOT JUST MEN)… ERA… EQUAL RIGHTS AMENDMENT)…
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia 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 is a national / federal holiday but Gov. Newsom decided to make a Proclamation for California (why?) I have a dream AND PROCLAIM that Gruesome IS NOT THE governor of California.
Each year on the third Monday of January we observe Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and reflect on the work that still needs to be done for racial equality. This January 17, take time to reflect and take action on civil rights issues across the globe.