Monday, August 26, 2013

I have a Dream - 50 years later

I caught snippets of the 50th anniversary of MLK's I Have a Dream Speech and sad to say I was underwhelmed by the featured speakers, particularly Eric Holder and Cory Booker.  Why all that stridency?  Granted the Trayvon Martin case is an issue in the black community, but I would think an occasion like this would largely be celebrated by the gains made over the last 50 years, notably John Lewis being a ranking Democratic member of Congress, which was virtually inconceivable when King delivered his powerful speech.

In many ways the dream has been fulfilled, but we have yet to move into a post-racial society, which some pundits opined with the election of Obama in 2008.  The Trayvon Martin case notes the shortfalls in our purportedly "color-blind society," which Reagan tried to invoke in 1986.  Even with the highly toxic decision of the Supreme Court to gut the Voting Rights Act, there are still federal laws in place to challenge state attempts to restrict voting by requiring picture IDs and by shortening the window of early voting.

What worried me the most is that this largely Democratic rally in Washington saw no aspiring Democratic leader seize the moment to launch a bid for 2016, especially with so many people on hand for the occasion.  Once again it is left to Obama to encapsulate the moment.


  1. The King Center is hosting its own "official" 50th anniversary march on Washington Wednesday. Not sure why Al Sharpton organized a competing march, although apparently they had a great turnout. All the presidents will be speaking on Wednesday (Obama, Carter, and Clinton).

    By good fortune, I will be there at least for part of it on Wednesday.

  2. That's great, av! I noticed Obama's speech is scheduled for Wednesday.

  3. I am really looking forward to it. I was at a huge march in Central Park in 1968 after King was killed, so feel like my life has come full circle. I wish there were more "jobs, justice, and freedom" to point to, though.

  4. 2014 is a very important midterm, as it should allow Democrats to take back Midwestern states. I think Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin are absolutely sick of Republican draconian politics. I just hope voters remember to keep these guys out of office for a long time to come.

  5. Interesting side story to the commemoration of MLK's historic speech,

    Not a single prominent Republican chose to attend the event, including the lone black Republican Congressman Tim Scott who lied about not getting an invitation.

  6. I saw that Fox News was all over this story about how no Republicans were invited. Our top news source might as well be run by the Politburo. The Republican Party by what ... the Nazis? It is sort of hard to believe that not one Republican leader could be bothered to attend -- or wanted to even be seen there.

    I felt really lucky to be there that day. Very festive atmosphere, but the security was so tight (as it should be) that I couldn't get into main area by the Lincoln Memorial in time to get back to my meeting. But I was able to participate for a couple hours in the main area down the mall, and experience all the political views of our country.

    My favorite was a large bed sheet that had been painted with a quote from King about the bombs that explode in Vietnam explode at home. It was held up by two young men who had crossed out the word Vietnam and written in Iraq, and then Afghanistan, and then Syria. Very powerful. I thanked them for being there.

    I watched Obama's speech on t.v. in the hotel lobby and didn't, alas, get to hear the bells, although the group I was working with went outside at 3:00 just in case.

  7. It is amazing how these no-shows all claimed they were not invited, as if no one check on this. Civil Rights appears to be exclusively a Democratic issue.

  8. The Republicans don't want Black and Hispanic people helping to decide who the President will be. "They want their country back."

    I just hope minority (who will soon be majority) voters, women, students, workers, and the poor will stay engaged and get to the polls. As you noted, this will be important in 2014, but also in 2016.

    There are a few good representatives out there, but as far as I can tell, the Democrats haven't done a very good job living up to their lofty goals. I'm sort of resigned to the fact that, with as much money in the system, this is probably as good as we get.

  9. The Dems have moved to the center in the vacuum left by the Republican shift to the far right. I suppose we have Clinton to "thank" for this, as he saw the opening and took it. I suppose from a pragmatic view it allows the Dems to cultivate a broader base, but at the same time it means they no longer defend traditional liberal positions. Obama has stuck to the center throughout his tenure, even the Affordable Care Act is a very centrist oriented piece of legislation, which unfortunately it had to be to get the votes needed in the Senate. So many "Blue Dogs" in the Democratic Party, and virtually no cross-over Republicans.