Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech was given on August 28, 1963, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. The civil rights leader’s vision was simple: freedom and equality for black people, for all people. He also had another powerful message: Violence is not the answer. Examining quotes from King’s powerful speech, Liberty Nation compares the dream to the reality of 2020.
“We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.”
In May 2020, George Floyd, an unarmed black man, was killed by a white police officer. Amidst a pandemic that already had patience and tempers stretched taut, riots and fires broke out across the nation – all in the name of Black Lives Matter. Innocent people were hurt, even murdered. Black-owned stores were vandalized. Black police officers were killed.
More than a century after slavery was abolished, the fight for racial equality is still a struggle. Yet today’s protesters do not heed the wisdom of the doctor and instead pillage, plunder, and destroy neighborhoods, hurting those for whom they claim to be fighting.
Abraham Lincoln took on the challenge of abolishing slavery. King praised his efforts:
“Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as 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.”
Protesters in 2020, however, tried to take down every statue they identified as being a symbol of slavery, including vandalizing the Lincoln Memorial – the same location where King delivered his historic speech. But that was only part of it. Protesters seemed to find offense around every corner, destroying, dismantling, and toppling statues of even people who had advocated for equal rights.
“But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. 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.”
In contrast, it seems today is about demanding and taking whatever is wanted and promising retaliation if demands are not met. This can be seen with the leader of the Greater New York Black Lives Matter, Hawk Newsome, who said during a Fox News program in June: “If this country does not give us what we want, then we will burn down this system and replace it.”
The list of conditions, though, is hard to follow. From defunding the police to demanding white people give up their homes to black neighbors, the modern civil rights movement (if it can be called that) has moved away from equality and instead targets individuals and groups based solely on their race. From schools and teachers’ unions who refuse to return to work unless a slew of new procedures and policies favoring black people are incorporated; to President-elect Joe Biden saying he is going to focus on opening small businesses owned by people of color first, the racial divide appears to be widening, not lessening.
On this day, celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King and his dream of equality, we end with this final quote:
“So 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 and live out the true meaning of its creed: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”
Read more from Kelli Ballard.