As an entire generation has passed since the march on Washington on August 28,1963, what is known as the “I Have a Dream Speech” lives on.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., known as the moral conscience of our nation at that time, led the march on Washington, where he promoted, as he did everywhere he went, non violent change for justice for all people, not just white people.
Negroes, the vernacular in 1963, in many cities were not allowed to use the same public bathrooms as whites. They couldn’t eat at the same restaurants, and even though Miss Rosa Parks, years before, in her act of defiance in refusing to give up her seat on a bus for a white man, Negroes were still far away from Dr. King’s dream. Indeed, in some areas, usually in the South, whites could not marry Negroes until 1961. How could they? Even our founding fathers were racists; describing [then called colored people] 3/5th’s of a person.
We all know by now that Thomas Jefferson had a child with his slave, and we all know, it was most likely against her will.
Time and time again people of color were is a pool of hate and ignorance, and clung to their faith and families for their strength to overcome the ugliness of racism.
In 1964, LBJ and Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Suddenly, there was a Federal Law with consequences if one discriminated against people of color.
Music was a huge part in teaching ignorant whites about a small part of black culture. On shows like Ed Sullivan, white America saw glamorous women like The Supremes. They sang along, the same year in 1964, to the timeless song ‘My Girl’ by the Temptations.
Elvis Presley was the first white man who sang black music and was accepted, but white people had been stealing or “borrowing” from the black man for decades in music. Indeed, if one ever studies the evolution of rock and roll, it starts with the black man.
But today we focus on another black man. A black man who refused to stoop to the stupidity of the KKK and other hate groups, and maintained his class and dignity through non violent protest and speeches.
Forty nine years ago, it was inconceivable that we would have a black President.
On inauguration night,2008, like so many baby boomers, I sat speechless, sobbing uncontrollably, as I watched Barack Obama and his wonderful family take to the stage and Senator Obama became President Obama.
In the crowd was Jessie Jackson, who was with Dr. King when he was murdered in Memphis. As the camera flashed to Jackson, hands over his cheeks and no attempt to hide the tears, I could only imagine what he was thinking, but I am thinking it was, “I too had a dream, and tonight I am witnessing a big chunk of that dream coming true.”
If you have never seen this speech, I implore you to watch it now on this page.
Remember the power of one. And remember, Dr. Martin Luther King.