On August 28, 1963, speaking to half a million of his fellow Americans and more, Martin Luther King Jr. spoke words that every American since that day has known by heart. “I have a dream,” King said, “that my children one day will be judged not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”
Every phrase in it counts; but today, perhaps, the phrase most poignant is that first part : “I have a dream.” A dream : in other words, a vision, a hope, not yet present but still to come.
America’s very existence arises from the dreams of men and women, for a life better than the one handed to them. America never gets to the finish line. we always have more work to do, progress to bring, as we move always forward toward social justice and civil rights and dignity for all. We may never get all the way there ? Perhaps; but every generation of Americans must keep on keeping on. We live in the future, and it is ours to make.
That is what America is. And we are all in it, all of us.
And yet ….. the progress forward is not unbroken. Often we as a nation stop moving forward; sometimes we even step backwards. Because there are some of us who do NOT believe in the dream. Oh the fine words, yes; the reality, not so much.
And so we struggle. Today we struggle. 50 years after Dr. king spoke calling us to move forward boldly, many parts of America are moving resolutely backward.
If there was any civil right that Dr. King cared for most of all, first of all, it was the right to vote. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was as much his doing as it was President Johnson’s. Yet today, 48 years after the VRA was enacted, there are several states that have legislated — or are trying to legislate — making it much more difficult for many of us to vote. Especially the poor and the isolated among us. Those who need the right to vote most of all — because it is the one thing that people disadvantaged can do as well as people with all advantages — are to have a “voted ID” — often next to impossible to get, and costly, or they will not be registered to vote. Those who live far from a polling place, or who work two or three jobs all day long and so cannot vote on polling day, will have early voting hours cut down. Anything to keep those who most need the vote from voting.
Nothing legislative could be more immoral, not to mention un-American, than efforts to impede any American from voting. Yet that is what we see going on in NC, in TX, in KS and, to a less rigorous extent, in several other states. We abhor the “vote suppression” movement.
The Department of justice is moving to block Texas’s vote-suppression laws. It has signaled that it will soon sue to block North Carolina’s even more onerous vote-suppression laws. his we thoroughly applaud. Nonetheless, it is a shame that it has come to this, 50 years after Dr. King spoke his dream, 48 years after our Congress and President enacted the most all-encompassing Voting Rights act ever adopted by our nation.
We cannot turn back. We dare not allow the nation to turn back. We must not stand by and watch any state turn us back. Our destiny as a nation demands we move forward, always forward, until every one of us has the civil rights, the respect, and the protection that our nation has always, on its truest days, promised to all.
—- The Editors / Here and Sphere