The Work's Not Done, but the Dream Lives On
Every schoolchild knows that Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream. We extoll praise on the man who told us, "Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that." and "We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools." His condemnations are packaged in smooth pills, easy to swallow. Besides, he was talking about things that happened a long time ago; we elected our first black President, so we must be living in the dream
In his poem "Harlem," Langston Hughes asked, "What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun? Or fester like a sore— And then run?" Have we deferred King's dream? If, instead of placing his words in a time capsule with the portrait of a man that we all recognize but few take the time to know, we removed the lenses of our Jim Crow era glasses, stopped placing his quotes on black and white pictures of a bygone era, and instead look at his words in context of our modern world, would we say that we have reached the promised land King spoke of or is it still over the mountain just out of sight?
When King died, 66% of white Americans disapproved of him. We all like to think that were King alive today, we would be on his side. However, 57% of whites have a negative view of the Black Lives Matter Movement, 66% of whites support protecting Confederate Statues that were erected during the Jim Crow era, and 70% of whites disapproved of Colin Kapernick's protest against police brutality. How many have stood by silently as the President has attacked John Lewis?
So we have to ask ourselves, would King be revered today? Or do we only like to celebrate civil rights leaders when they are quieted by death, polished by selective quoting, and fit neatly on a motivational poster?
The work's not done, but the dream lives on.