SAN DIEGO: On the day designated to honor the contributions of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Americans still wonder about the legacy of this incredible man of God. Unfortunately, the embattled political spheres in Washington repeatedly demonstrate they are not able to see the same vision as Dr. King. Watch the “I Have a Dream” speech at the Lincoln Memorial. If this moment is a measuring stick as to the general dysphoria of politics today, sensible citizens can sense the disconnect between Americans.
One can see that the words and intent that this crusader once shared with all Americans has increasingly been distorted and trivialized.
When King spoke the words of his famous “I Have a Dream” speech, he shared:
“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.”
These words from Dr. King’s words are usually the ones most often quoted — the ones that are most remembered. They are easy to remember, but seemingly more difficult to understand. In fact, the content of character does not seem to be making as much news these days as one’s skin color.
Many Americans, of all colors, were genuinely moved when Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke at the Lincoln Memorial in 1963.
Martin Luther King’s dream resonated with millions of U.S. citizens.
But since then, increasingly in recent decades, more Americans are being judged by the color of their skin, not the content of their true character. This is the reverse of Rev. King’s ‘Dream.’ Such a reversal did not occur through some random accident. Divisiveness has become a political strategy. The use of the terms “racism” and “racist” have become weapons. In fact, America’s first black president, Barack Hussein Obama, used it as a political shield or spear. (Obama’s Legacy Is a Weaker and More Divided America)
This was disappointing to say the very least.
Indeed, many Americans looking across the landscape of reality could be proud that finally the first black POTUS was elected in 2008. At the time, there was even a general perception or sentiment among many people that Barack Obama’s presidency was the fulfillment of Dr. King’s ‘Dream.’
Yet, the jury is still out on the value of Barack Hussein Obama as POTUS, let alone being the fulfillment of the moral high ground of the Civil Rights Movement. It seems that America is more racially divided than ever.
In 2011, Earl Ofari Hutchinson, author, political analyst, and at the time, a weekly co-host of the Al Sharpton Show on American Urban Radio Network, wrote an article entitled “President Obama Still Can Seize King’s Racial Dream High Ground.”
That means black Americans were still ‘waiting to see’ in 2011.
Hutchinson stated in his article that:
The 1963 March on Washington that brought King world-wide attention and stamped him as a transformative leader for the ages brought thousands of persons together across gender, class and color lines in a vocal protest against intolerance and violence. This was the hope and promise of Obama’s election. It showed that millions of whites could strap racial blinders around their eyes and punch the ticket for an African-American for the world’s most powerful political post. King would undoubtedly have glowed with approval at that.
Although it may be true that Martin Luther King, Jr. would have glowed with approval when a black man finally became President of the United States in 2008; many black Americans in 2020 view former President Barack Obama as a disappointment. Many citizens do not have the sense that President Obama’s ‘reign’ was a fulfillment of the Civil Rights Movement. It is much more likely that history will show Obama as a mere political leader who worked way too much to divide Americans, and not to unite them.
Earl Hutchinson, by his own words, equates King’s Racial Dream High Ground” viewed King as
“a transformative leader for the ages brought thousands of persons together across gender, class and color lines in a vocal protest against intolerance and violence.”
By such a standard of measure, Obama could not be seen as a man able to lay claim to King’s moral high ground.
Barack Obama: Becoming the First Black President
While it is undeniable that Barack Obama made history by becoming the first black president in the United States, he did not need to use race as a weapon. Because Obama was a clever politician, he found opportunities to amplify racial tensions. One fatal outcome of weaponizing race is that America today is more racially charged or hostile than in many years in the past. Now, no matter what their skin color, young Americans who look up to Barack Obama, should realize his position as president did not require him to use race as a weapon — yet he did.
Obama found ‘race” to be a useful weapon
He used it as a shield to protect the policies his political opponents would attack. And as a spear to stab at political opponents who opposed policies. Obama found it easy to use race as a weapon. And, increasingly the terms “racism” and “racist” became modern-day political weapons.
Despite being the first black POTUS, history will note that in reality, Obama was first and foremost a politician. More than likely, he was elected due to the color of his skin, not the content of his character. Most people had little idea of Obama’s identity the first time around and had less an idea about the content of his character.
And as a politician seeking to push a specific agenda, he was opposed by other politicians for political purposes, not the color of his skin. The illusion was useful, however, for real political capital.
Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. was not under the same illusions the defined Barack Obama as President.
Dr. King was mostly in ‘enemy territory’ in the Democrat-controlled Deep South. Dr. King had to face genuine hatred from those southern Democrat elitists and politicians who hated him simply because of his skin color. The Southern preacher was also risking his life each time he stood up for upholding the rights of American citizens in the Deep South.
And, he was willing to risk his life for his fellow citizens. This is because first and foremost, he was a man of God. A third-generation Christian minister.
And, despite the color of his skin, he won the respect of even his enemies. Because of the content of his character.
Rev. King was jailed multiple times for standing up for the rights of black American citizens in the Deep South. King and his followers could be blown down a street from the blast of a water cannon. They could have vicious dogs attack them because they were marching for voting rights.
Dr. King faced down real racism, legalized racism as instituted under state law.
There is a huge difference between personal racist views and those which are mandated government statutes. Yet, Rev. King did not give up — even at the risk of his life.
King’s efforts and struggles were neither superficial attempts at grafting on to something much greater nor an insidious attempt at using a legacy for his own personal or political benefit. The man, the minister, was intensely focused upon helping all Americans – black as well as white. History views Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. as more than just a political and social reformer; he was a man of God.
He could be seen as just a political and social reformer, but the preacher in him conjured up the ‘Dream.’
King’s speech at the Lincoln Memorial can be used only as a measuring stick. His ‘Dream’ survived Obama’s presidency. It still exists, and some of the words that are not sincerely remembered to follow.
And, some of these words are inflammatory to some. But those words are part of the ‘Dream,’ and that dream still exists.
I Have A Dream
I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment, 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…”
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 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 so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, we all can still share such a dream. It is a dream still deeply rooted in the American dream. That dream is still rooted in the words of the Declaration of Independence. That dream is still rooted in the words of the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
That dream is still rooted in the words of the Judeo-Christianity that is still the basis of this Republic.