On August 28, 1963 Martin Luther King Jr. made his now famous “I have a dream” speech.
I was driving when I heard the newscaster mention it was the 50th anniversary. It made me pause and contemplate how different the world is that my toddler is growing up in.
How different is it?
Obviously things have changed in the last 50 years.
But consider this: “official” segregation is a thing of the past in most of North America – but we still find ways to remain separate and keep some people out. Black people in America, and people of colour in North America, are still experiencing discrimination, higher rates of poverty, and racism – both individual and systemic. I wonder what Rev. King would make of that?
In the second page of his speech, Rev. King says “Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksand of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood”. We are still working on that, but the line also spoke to me of the current fight for LGBTQ equality. We still have a long way to go to reach that solid rock on many fronts.
Whether you are religious or not, consider this powerful line from page two and how it applies today: “Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children. It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment.”
Indeed Rev. King! It’s still urgent. And in some ways, as things get better it is easier to overlook the injustice that still exists and the insidious ways racism and other isms have woven themselves into the fabric of our societies and our unconscious minds so that we don’t even notice they are there. Children don’t naturally discriminate; they learn it. Isms are all around us in what we see and hear and in who and what is missing from curriculum, images in the media, family table talk, etc. We learn to see others as “less than”. Sadly.
We have come far in eradicating some of the obvious ways we discriminate, but we still have a long way to go to “make justice a reality for all of God’s children”. As I sat in my car that day and heard the news, I wondered (and still do) what Rev. King would make of it all, and how the world may be different at the 100th anniversary of his I Have a Dream speech, when my daughter is 51 years old.
Copyright 2013 Annemarie Shrouder
Author, Speaker and Facilitator on issues of Diversity and Inclusion.