By Henry B. Rosenbush
Difficult to fathom it has been 45 years since Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s demand for civil rights for black Americans in Washington D.C. On this day, in 1963, 200,000 supporters marched on the nation’s capitol, the civil rights leader gave a stirring speech culminating with the oft repeated sentence:
“I had a dream.”
Much has changed in the last four decades but the human race is far from solving its own problems in reference to racism, hatred and mistrust. That said, I am still proud that we have moved forward; for every step forward there are possibilites of the reverse, but as long as brave men and women stand up for individual rights and freedoms there will be progress.
Silence is never an option.
Dr. King was more than just a civil rights leader and more than a brave man, he was an intellectual who devoted his beliefs to helping others through inspiration. “Now is the time…” to listen again to full speech; it is not just about Afro Americans it is about every American; black, white, female or male.
“Nineteen sixty three is not an end but a beginning.”
Two Thousand and Eight is a continuance. Whether one supports Barack Obama as president, or another candidate, I’m certain Dr. King would appreciate this progress but also realize that even the possible election of a black man to the office of President of the United States is merely a stepping stone towards equality.
Always keep an open mind about how this country was founded. While many founders were slave owners they somehow still managed to draft documents that would eventually open the door towards equality.
Bless Dr. King and all those who still promote non violence; it is difficult to turn the other cheek but life is too sacred and brief to live hatefully. Whenever I hear “We Shall Overcome,” which was sung in synagogues, as well as, black churches, I am stirred emotionally, recalling how all those who preached non violence died at the hands of violent men.
As an Alabama native, the last several minutes of the speech still remind me of what living here was like in the 1950s and 60s and how my childhood friends were black and white. When 1964 and the Civil Rights Act changed everything we were all hopeful. I still endured anti-Semetic in school but rather than learn to hate I learned to move forward and pursue my own dreams of success and enlightenment. I learned to not let hurtful words define my character.
There is still racism and I still hear Jewish slurs from time to time, but as a writer and former journalist whose life revolves around words, I am more aware of the power language and idiom. I learned to accept that I cannot change all injustices, but can at the very least be free to forgive, forget, forge on.
Only through strength, courage and strong moral character can we all be “free at last.”