Dr. King: The Dream And Reality

January 16, 1994|By CARL O. SNOWDEN

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was born on Jan. 15, 1929. He was assassinated on April 4, 1968. This great civil rights leader, who has been called the non-violent warrior, took America on a journey for racial equality. In 13 years, he took us from Montgomery to Memphis. He was able to provide us with a leadership that was both challenging and non-threatening. . . .

In 1955, who would have thought that a 26-year-old Baptist minister, who said to his people during the Montgomery bus boycott "it is better that we walk in dignity than ride in shame," would become a Nobel Peace Prize winner in 1964?

However, on April 4, 1968, when Dr. King was murdered in Memphis, the nation lost more than just a civil rights leader. It was robbed of the one person who might have helped us to

achieve racial equality.

His song, "We Shall Overcome," is no longer sung with the same gusto as it once was. Dr. King's dream of racial equality has now been overshadowed with bitter debates on preferential treatment, quotas and reverse discrimination. Seldom do we hear the phrase "black and white together," of which Dr. King was so fond. . . . Those who murdered Dr. King may not have killed the dream but they succeeded in deferring it. . . . It is precisely this reality that makes a Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday so important. It forces us annually to measure our rhetoric of brotherhood with reality.

We can no longer pretend that a youngster growing up in public housing has the same opportunity of becoming president as a person graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy. While both institutions are subsidized by taxpayers, the reality is that you land in these two places more by birth than right. . . .

If Dr. King were alive today, he would undoubtedly be disgusted with the level of violence among African-American males. However, he would not only be opposed to the violent actions of urban city dwellers but the apathy of suburbanites who seem insensitive to their neighbors' plight. He would also challenge the system that makes it easier for the poor to sell drugs than to go to college. Dr. King would tell young black men that their poverty is no excuse for their crimes. . . .

Dr. King was a truth teller. Truth tellers don't fare well in our society. They are often misunderstood. . . .

The hour is late, our clock of destiny is ticking, yet, we can and must make the dream of Dr. King a reality. He fought the good battle. He left a legacy. It is now our responsibility to pick up his mantle, take up his cause and "keep the movement for social justice moving. If you can't fly, run; if you can't run, walk; but for lTC humanity's sake, keep the movement moving." We owe it to him and ourselves to do this.

A Luta Continua, the struggle and the dream continues.

The writer is an Annapolis city alderman.

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