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The Dream Today
Fifty years after the March on Washington


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Dean Nelson

During the past 50 years of American history, much has been gained and much has been lost. I rejoice in the end of the segregationist practices Dr. King and many others fought so valiantly, and in the tremendous increase in opportunity for all Americans, regardless of race or gender. But sadly, greater opportunity for African Americans has not necessarily been associated with greater dignity and self-reliance. While some in our community have achieved tremendous success — rising to the top of every imaginable industry — a large segment has become mired in a web of failing schools and the perverse incentives that govern various forms of public assistance.

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My dream is that Americans of all races would restore the strength of our families and our institutions of faith, and in doing so, rebuild our communities. I dream that Americans of all races would reject government interference in entrepreneurial initiative and encroachment on the God-ordained authority of the family. While Dr. King had higher hopes for the positive effects of government intervention than I, he would have certainly agreed that it should never trespass on the mission of the Church. And he would have surely shared the vision of the prophet Jeremiah: “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper” (Jer. 29:5-7).

 Dean Nelson is chairman of the Frederick Douglass Foundation. The Coalition of African American Pastors (CAAP) will be hosting its Eighth Annual Leadership Conference with the Frederick Douglass Foundation on October 8-11, 2013, at the Heritage Foundation.


Nathan Schlueter

Two score and ten years ago, Martin Luther King Jr. electrified America with his “I Have a Dream” speech, delivered from the Lincoln Memorial one century after Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. One reason for the immediate, and enduring, success of the speech is the way that King wrapped his call for action within a fundamentally conservative idiom, drawing upon the deepest elements of American identity: Sacred Scripture, patriotic songs, history, geography, and above all the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, which King quotes more often in his speeches and writings than any other text except the Bible.

This is especially true of King’s Dream itself, which was not intended to be an idiosyncratic fantasy but rather an evocative expression of the fundamental principles of the American political order. “It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream,” King said, “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.”

Unfortunately, King’s conservative Dream has been hijacked by the Left to promote causes King never would have dreamed of supporting, including the legal rights to abortion and same-sex “marriage.” King rightly saw that the principles of the Declaration of Independence are rooted in “the Laws of Nature and Nature’s God,” and not in the repudiation of Nature and God for the sake of radical autonomy and equality. In severing the essential link in America’s founding principles between law and its trans-political ground in Nature and God, the American Left is making the “rough places plain,” not for the realization of King’s Dream, but for a statist Nightmare.

America does not need any new dreams or dreamers, as the years of “Hope” and “Change” make clear. America’s Founding Dream, which is King’s Dream, remains “the last best hope of earth.” But unless this Dream is revitalized in the hearts and minds of Americans, it shall, like Prospero’s magnificent pageant in Shakespeare’s The Tempest, “dissolve” and “leave not a rack behind.”

 Nathan Schlueter ([email protected]) is the author of One Dream or Two? Justice in America and in the Thought of Martin Luther King Jr.


Aubrey Shines

As we commemorate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, the media have been focusing intensely on the “I Have A Dream” speech. One point that is overlooked in the coverage is the fact that Dr. King spoke from an uncompromising Biblical worldview.

His role as an active member of the clergy should not be lost on modern audiences. Months before he addressed the entire world from the National Mall, he wrote an open letter to eight clergy from a Birmingham jail. In that letter, he admonished clergy for sitting on the sidelines as the most important cultural issues of the day took center stage. Today, there are clergy who fear diminishing membership numbers and the political-correctness police — so they remain silent on the most important cultural issues of the day: abortion, same-sex marriage, gun control, illegal immigration, out-of-wedlock-birth rates, black-on-black and black-on-white crime. I believe that if Dr. King were dreaming today, he would again recognize the “fierce urgency of now” and encourage his fellow clergy to have courage and speak out with Biblical truth.

 Bishop Aubrey Shines is senior pastor at Glory To Glory Ministries in Tampa, Fla.


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

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