Posts Tagged ‘Jr. Memorial’

I Have A Dream

Today I was planning to be among the throngs of people flocking to the tidal basin in Washington, DC to witness the dedication of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial. I had my standing room tickets in the orange section printed and ready to go. Until Thursday that is, when the wrath of Hurricane Irene put a damper on the event plans. But the storm did not derail the plans of thousands of visitors who had a chance to experience the memorial today sans ceremony.

One dream that Martin Luther King, Jr. probably never envisioned was that exactly 48 years after giving his “I Have A Dream” speech, he would have his own memorial, with his own words etched in the walls around him, standing tall – 30 feet tall – between Presidents Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln. Although the dedication was cancelled, the rain and winds subsided and the sun shined brightly on the latest addition to the National Mall changing the landscape of the nation’s capitol just as Martin Luther King, Jr. changed the landscape of our society.

On January 1, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln took the first step in changing that landscape when he issued the Emancipation Proclamation.  A century later, Martin Luther King, Jr. stood before Abraham Lincoln on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and said these ever-lasting words:

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!

And while that seems like a fitting end for this post, it should also be said that there were many individuals, known and unknown, who championed the cause of civil rights and some who gave the ultimate sacrifice for what President Kennedy called “a moral crisis.”

On the local level, Millicent Fenwick served on the New Jersey Committee of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and fought against racial discrimination in housing, education, and employment. And on the federal level Attorney General Robert Kennedy and the rest of the Kennedy Justice Department including Nicholas Katzenbach, Burke Marshall, John Doar, and John Douglas worked tirelessly on the cause of civil rights. It was John Douglas that Kennedy tapped to work closely with the planners of the “March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom” and to give them the full support and assistance of the federal government to insure that the rally was achieved peacefully. It was. And it was on that day that Martin Luther King, Jr., captivated the country with his dream.