Now, I say to you today my friends, 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.'
-Martin Luther King Jr., Speech at Civil Rights March on Washington, August 28, 1963
I think one of the saddest things about the history of the United States is that no one picked up the mantle after Dr. King’s death. Actually, that’s an inaccurate statement, the sad thing isn’t that no picked up the mantle, it’s that the vacuum created by his death was filled and plugged by opportunistic men who cared more for their own fame than they did the dream.
I ask you this, how have any of Dr. King’s successors furthered his dream? What palpable way has any of the parade of clowns taken his dream of unity and fulfilled it? There are men, of course, who see themselves as successors and fulfillers of the dream. They come to mind easily and are rarely regarded with anything but contempt by middle aged white men like myself. The unity and brotherhood these pretenders speak of does not involve me, as Dr. King’s vision did.
These men, who will sadly be written into history, by people too fearful not to do so, as Dr. King’s successors, are in reality, nothing more than ambulance chasing opportunists, who clamor and shout for the fame Dr. King once had, less the furthering of his real ideas and agendas.
I defy anyone to tell me that Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton, the good reverend’s, have ever done anything in the name of unification of the races. Where there is a perceived injustice to any minority with the promise of televised coverage, they will stand tall for all to see. Pillars against intolerance and injustice, they speak with forked tongue eloquence to right the wrongs perpetrated upon them by a race of people who will always look to oppress and deny them their due. Other than being self appointed guardians against such acts, many of which are spun deliberately to bring race into equations in which it was not a variable to begin with, what have these men done to further the cause?
I don’t mean to say that Dr. King himself didn’t stand up against injustice or that doing so is not a worthwhile pursuit when it is pure. I concede with vigor the necessity of a strong voice standing against injustice, but there was so very much more to the dream than that alone. And that is the part of the dream that is rudderless and adrift.
Cruelty, intolerance, injustice, ignorance and hate will not be defeated through show of force, but rather through a show of unity and love. At the risk of sounding obtuse, where is the love?
The furthering of Dr. King’s true dream is carried out, not by those who have stood directly on his shoulders but only shouted at the rain, but by people who have stood tall as examples that there are no differences that separate us save for those in our minds.
Tonight’s newscasts will, of course, feature the usual suspects who will praise his name and his work and promise the good Lord above that they will do their best to carry on in his name, but I can’t help but wonder if he will be looking down upon them with tears in his eyes for opportunities lost? After all, it was Dr. King himself to said, “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”