The Dream Today
Fifty years after the March on Washington


Grant Collins

I think Martin Luther King Jr., were he alive today, might say:

Personal responsibility is the launching pad for success. All persons control their own destiny. Each person has dignity, and a measure of destiny within: When people hold fast to their ideals, their circumstances (such as race, gender, and class) are but the proving grounds of their gifts. Greatness is attainable, and each person has a unique destiny.

I see the greatness in everyone, and the unfortunate struggle and toil based on a small view of one’s self and of God. Much work needs to be done. Are parents setting an example for their children, on a daily basis? Are teachers facilitating greatness among their students? Do our institutions and their leaders focus on investing in the growth and development of their work force? Do our political leaders edify with their words and actions?

It is difficult to say yes, on the broadest social scale; but locally, within communities, in a home here and there, in a particular classroom, yes, those leaders are present. They meet at the dinner table, they volunteer with a kind word, they work, and they are beacons of peace and joy.

 Grant E. Collins II served as deputy director of the Office of Family Assistance at the Department of Health and Human Services.

Derek Grier

A great portion of Dr. King’s speech is a blueprint for what he hoped America’s future would hold for its children. The dream that one day his children would “not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character” is one of the most memorable and repeated lines of the speech. In 1963, Dr. King refused to believe that there were “insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity.” These 50 years later, I am convinced that we have made substantial progress in extending economic and political freedom to all Americans. However, the success that we have seen in these areas is not so great that we can indulge in what Dr. King described as the “luxury of cooling off.” I’m the father of two teenaged African-American boys, and my dream for America’s future cannot be fulfilled as long as the African-American high-school dropout rate, unemployment rate, crime rate, abortion rate, and out-of-wedlock-birth rate continue to outpace the national average. We have come a long way but we still have some mileage left in our journey toward King’s vision of an oasis of freedom and justice.

 Derek Grier is senior pastor of Grace Church in Dumfries, Va.

Jerome Hudson

There was a distinct difference between the speech delivered by Dr. King 50 years ago and the one made by his son last Saturday.

The elder King brought the crowd to tears of joy with the hope of increased equality and opportunity — a dream fulfilled. The son sought to bring about tears of self-pity and anger over things that are allegedly owed to the people in the crowd.

America is not fully equal, nor will it ever be. But it certainly is not the society of segregation and institutional racism that it was five decades ago. There will always be bias, but those who practice it openly are scorned and those who attempt to institutionalize it are prosecuted.

And there’s even more work to be done. Dr. King dreamed that his children could “one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin” — yet we have immortalized racial preferences.

Dr. King was pro-family, yet those who claim his legacy promote a welfare system that incentivizes fatherlessness.

Dr. King decried a racism that could strip a black child of his “self-hood.” Yet, today, a black baby is five times more likely to be aborted than a white baby.

Dr. King didn’t die for this. It’s terribly inconsistent with his dream, and it impedes true progress.

Dr. King would be proud of America’s racial progress but would encourage us to march on. He would certainly be proud of his niece Alveda King, who said, “As brothers and sisters, united by one blood, in one single race . . . we are called to love each other.” Most Americans agree with her.

We still have a long way to go. My hope is that, 50 years from now, we’ll all be closer to the mountaintop.

 Jerome Hudson is a member of Project 21, a black-conservative leadership network.

MLK’s ‘I Have a Dream’ Speech
This past August 28 marked the 50th anniversary of Rev. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech in 1963. King’s stirring words would be remembered as one of the most famous and influential speeches in American history. Here’s a look back.
King delivered his speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to a crowd of more than 200,000 who had gathered for the “Great March” in Washington, D.C.
King (center) joined other civil-rights leaders during one of the day’s marches.
King with some of the other speakers who addressed the crowd that day. From left: Whitney Young, Jr., of the Urban League; King; union leader Walter Reuther; Eugene Carson Blake of the National Council of Churches; and John Lewis of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.
King with Rabbi Joachim Prinz, president of the American Jewish Congress.
THE SPEECH: The burgeoning crowds surrounded the reflecting pool and stretched back toward the Washington Monument.
King spoke eloquently of the trials of the civil rights movement, the sacrifices of many in attendance, and the ongoing struggle for equality. But his words of hope and optimism for the future rang the loudest, and would echo through history.
Said King: “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.”
“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character.”
“With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.”
“When we allow freedom to 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!’”
THE MARCH ON WASHINGTON: Known formally as the “March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom,” the August 28, 1963, event was organized to draw attention to continued racial discrimination and to advocate for government assistance to improve black unemployment.
Organizers of the rally met with President John Kennedy in the Oval Office earlier in the year to discuss the aims of the event. (Rev. King is seen third from left.)
A. Philip Randolph organized the march.
Other scenes from the day’s marches and rallies.
Some of the many faces of the marchers on that day.
Marchers gather around the reflecting pool.
FAMOUS FACES: The march drew many well-known entertainers and other figures who had been involved in the civil-rights movemment. Pictured, actor Sidney Poitier (left) and singer Harry Belafonte.
A journalist interviews Sammy Davis Jr. (at left) and NAACP executive Roy Wilkins.
Charlton Heston (center) and Marlon Brando (at right).
Actor Burt Lancaster speaks to the crowd.
Actor and activist Ossie Davis
Former professional basketball player Bill Russell (at left)
Famous musicians were also in attendance. Pictured, Peter, Paul and Mary entertain the crowd.
Folk musicians Joan Baez (left) and Bob Dylan
Odetta Holmes also performed.
Updated: Jan. 19, 2014