The Dream: 45 Years Later
Today's the 45th Anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s I Have A Dream Speech.
Tonight, as we watch Barack Obama accept the Democratic party's nomination to run for President, I think we'll be witnessing just a bit of King's dream being realized.
Back in his 2004 DNC address, Obama referenced the dreams of his parents, grandparents, and of American citizens everywhere. He said:
Tonight is a particular honor for me because, let’s face it, my presence on this stage is pretty unlikely. My father was a foreign student, born and raised in a small village in Kenya. He grew up herding goats, went to school in a tin-roof shack. His father -- my grandfather -- was a cook, a domestic servant to the British.
But my grandfather had larger dreams for his son. Through hard work and perseverance my father got a scholarship to study in a magical place, America, that shone as a beacon of freedom and opportunity to so many who had come before.
While studying here, my father met my mother. She was born in a town on the other side of the world, in Kansas. Her father worked on oil rigs and farms through most of the Depression. The day after Pearl Harbor my grandfather signed up for duty; joined Patton’s army, marched across Europe. Back home, my grandmother raised a baby and went to work on a bomber assembly line. After the war, they studied on the G.I. Bill, bought a house through F.H.A., and later moved west all the way to Hawaii in search of opportunity.
And they, too, had big dreams for their daughter. A common dream, born of two continents.
That is the true genius of America, a faith -- a faith in simple dreams, an insistence on small miracles; that we can tuck in our children at night and know that they are fed and clothed and safe from harm; that we can say what we think, write what we think, without hearing a sudden knock on the door; that we can have an idea and start our own business without paying a bribe; that we can participate in the political process without fear of retribution, and that our votes will be counted -- at least most of the time.
People don’t expect -- People don't expect government to solve all their problems. But they sense, deep in their bones, that with just a slight change in priorities, we can make sure that every child in America has a decent shot at life, and that the doors of opportunity remain open to all.
What should our government's priorities be, in order to create an environment in which ordinary citizens can rest assured in the simple dreams Obama talked about back in 04? Dreams like safety and security for their kids? Freedom to express their thoughts? Confidence in our democracy? The priority must be to empower individuals who've been needlessly victimized, to get them politically engaged and invested in the healthy operation of our government, and to restore their confidence that our government and its laws are set up to operate for the public's good.
Part of this must involve reshifting the focus onto the needs of ordinary people, the voting public, where right now the focus is on the priorities of those groups with the most power and influence. Not sure how effectively that can be done at the DNC or any other political gathering that's been brought to us by the Corporate Lobby. But one can dream, right?