August 28, 2014 marks the fifty-first anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s I Have A Dream speech. Question: Is Dr. King’s dream alive and well today, or not?
We have written about two tragedies that occurred on Saturday, August 9th, 2014. Two Americans lost their lives. One was a Rabbi on his way to a shul (synagogue) in North Miami Beach, Florida and the second a black man walking down the middle of a street in Ferguson, Missouri. The reaction to each shooting may indicate how alive and well the dream Dr. Martin Luther King spoke about in his speech at the Lincoln Memorial truly is. Dr. King said:
And 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.
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I have a dream that my four little 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.
Are Joseph Raksin and Michael Brown being judged based upon the color of their skins or the content of their characters? Are government officials and the media treating both shootings equally? Is the law treating each shooting equally?
If Dr. King was correct, then our dream must be “deeply rooted in the America dream.” Both men deserve equal justice under the law. To do otherwise destroys the very foundation of the civil rights movement.
Should a white holy man not receive the same media and legal attention as a black man with a criminal record and history of violence? Should not both men’s shootings garner the same level of justice under the law? Should not both men’s families and funerals be covered equally by the media? Should not our highest elected and civic leaders show empathy, and more importantly, seek equal justice under the law for both men?
Apparently not. As we have witnessed since August 9th, 2014, there is growing evidence that men are being judged in the public square by the color of their skin rather than the content of their characters.
As Dr. King warned in 1963:
It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment.
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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. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. They have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.
Jews and blacks have both been the victims of hate and racial animus. Both have suffered great harm at the hands of those who would make them second class citizens. Even today both are put upon across the globe. But their history as a people is not why each should be treated equally. They should be treated equally because they are both Americans.
Is Dr. King’s dream alive and well today, or not? You be the judge.
VIDEO: Theodore “Ted” Hayes, Jr. – We are Americans