"I have a dream"

This was my post in August 2013 on the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, including a YouTube clip of the entire speech; I repost it to honor the holiday is his memory and to remind us of his call to a virtuous future…I think some of us could use the reminder about now.

Fifty years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., took the podium at the Lincoln Memorial and delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom; it is still one of the most profound and moving speeches in the history of American rhetoric, on top of what it meant to the civil rights movement.  King did not dream that his children would one day be able to watch the speech on their desktop computer or smartphone, but they can, and so can we.

The whole thing is remarkable, including the peek you get at what a slice of America looked like in the early 1960s; go to the 12:00 mark to catch the dreams, and then on through to the end for the ad-libbed “let freedom ring”s and the promise of ultimate freedom which still stir my emotions.

“…let freedom ring.  And when this happens…and 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!”

Out of the coverage leading up to this week’s anniversary I’ve pulled a couple of gems: from Brian Naylor at NPR, a look at the little segregated southern town that was Washington, D.C. 50 years ago; and from Robert G. Kaiser in The Washington Post, a reporter’s remembrance of the event he covered 50 years earlier, with a quite remarkable admission—that the local paper blew it when it all but overlooked King’s speech in its coverage of the march!

“I have a dream”

Fifty years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., took the podium at the Lincoln Memorial and delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom; it is still one of the most profound and moving speeches in the history of American rhetoric, on top of what it meant to the civil rights movement.  King did not dream that his children would one day be able to watch the speech on their desktop computer or smartphone, but they can, and so can we.

The whole thing is remarkable, including the peek you get at what a slice of America looked like in the early 1960s; go to the 12:00 mark to catch the dreams, and then on through to the end for the ad-libbed “let freedom ring”s and the promise of ultimate freedom which still stir my emotions.

“…let freedom ring.  And when this happens…and 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!”

Out of the coverage leading up to this week’s anniversary I’ve pulled a couple of gems: from Brian Naylor at NPR, a look at the little segregated southern town that was Washington, D.C. 50 years ago; and from Robert G. Kaiser in The Washington Post, a reporter’s remembrance of the event he covered 50 years earlier, with a quite remarkable admission—that the local paper blew it when it all but overlooked King’s speech in its coverage of the march!

No straight path to civil rights for gay Americans

Life would be easier to follow and less confusing to live if there weren’t so many detours.  But things happen when they happen, regardless of when we think they should have happened: witness the latest victory in the struggle for civil rights for homosexual Americans.

Legalized discrimination against gays in American society has been taking a beating and is on its way out, and with last week’s vote by the U.S. Senate to join the House of Representatives in repealing the Clinton-era law which prohibited homosexuals from serving our country in the armed forces if their sexual orientation became public, we’re one step closer to equality.  Once the bill gets the president’s signature (later this week), it’s up to the administration and the Defense Department to make the necessary changes to enforce the law.  That means things won’t change right away, but they will change.

“I don’t care who you love,” Senator Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon, said as the debate opened.  “If you love this country enough to risk your life for it, you shouldn’t have to hide who you are.”

No gloating over winning one battle while the war remains to be won.  We can expect to hear a lot more thanks to a well-financed new group connected to Media Matters for America that promises to act as a “national rapid-response war room” taking on false and homophobic messages in the media and the political arena.

My happiness at the Senate vote was tempered by the recognition that so many members of Congress still found a reason to be against it—you can check the roll call vote in the Senate here, and the House here.  But big changes like this don’t happen overnight or all at once, and I try to keep that in mind when I see blog posts and headlines calling on the next Congress to reinstitute the law or ominously warning that this change will force God to stop blessing the American military (honest to God!) leading to the imminent and total destruction of our nation.  No doubt there are some with the same feeling about the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, but I’m not going to let any of them them ruin the moment, or the movement.