DATE: 1/18/2005 09:06:00 AM
Expanding the Dream - I didn't write anything about Martin Luther King, Jr. or his legacy yesterday. Partially because I was busy and didn't have time to formulate my thoughts, partially because I didn't feel I had much to add to what was already being said. Now, though, I have a local angle - the annual MLK Breakfast at the University of Maine. At the event, speakers said King's dream remained unfulfilled.
"That's what this is about: keeping Dr. King's dream alive," Maine Attorney General G. Steven Rowe said Monday.
Rowe and other speakers, including UMaine acting President Robert Kennedy and 2nd District U.S. Rep. Michael Michaud, stressed that King's dream was more than just a quest for civil rights. King's goal was one of economic and human equality and fairness for all, they said.
"Today, 37 years after Dr. King's death, the gap between the haves and the have-nots has never been wider," Rowe said.
He noted that in addition to economic divides, more than 45 million Americans are without health insurance.
"Because of that, Dr. King's dream is not fully realized," Rowe said.For years, liberals have been trying to use the magnificent words of King to advocate all sorts of policies that they say the civil rights leader would have supported. Personally, I think putting words into the mouth of a dead man is in poor taste, especially when your words and your dreams seem so much smaller than the words and dreams spoken in August of 1963:
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 one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
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. I have a dream today!
I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right down in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers. I have a dream today!
I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.
This is our hope. This is the faith that I will go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. 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. And this will be the day, this will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with new meaning, "My country 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrim's pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring!" And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true.Surely these words deserve better than to suffer the indignities of Rowe's interpretation. They certainly deserve better than the spin John Kerry gave them. Would King even recognize those who call themselves his allies? Would he recognize what they've done with his dream?