August 28, 1963, the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Junior gave us a call to action at the Lincoln Memorial that we all remember. August 28, 2013, President Obama, on those same steps reminded us that we have yet to fulfill the foundation of Dr. King’s dream.
Dr. King’s four extemporaneous words echo forward through the years, urging us to remember all he said that day, not just those words. How far we’ve come is evidenced by the fact that the president who took the mic August 28, 2013, was America's first black president. As he noted, that glorious refrain echoing forward, and those thousands who marched to Washington to hear it, made all the difference. Much struggle, pain and tragedy had come before, and much of the same came after. Nonetheless, inspired by four words calling them forward the marchers marched. All of it contributed to the ultimate successes to date.
The president noted that America has come far since the days of that speech, pointing out that to say it has not is to:
"...dismiss the magnitude of this progress, to suggest, as some sometimes do, that little has changed -- that dishonors the courage and the sacrifice of those who paid the price to march in those years. (Applause.) Medgar Evers, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, Michael Schwerner, Martin Luther King Jr., they did not die in vain. (Applause.) Their victory was great."
The president's speech was also sort of a "Yes, but..." approach to the question of whether things were better. Having assured everyone that things were better, he said:
"But we would dishonor those heroes as well to suggest that the work of this nation is somehow complete. The arc of the moral universe may bend towards justice, but it doesn't bend on its own. To secure the gains this country has made requires constant vigilance, not complacency. Whether it's by challenging those who erect new barriers to the vote or ensuring that the scales of justice work equally for all in the criminal justice system and not simply a pipeline from underfunded schools to overcrowded jails -- (applause) -- it requires vigilance."
And that’s where we’ve failed as a nation. We’ve allowed ourselves to decide that it is time to say, “Enough is enough. What more do these people want anyway?” What we should be asking is, “Would I, if I were in their shoes accept the share they’re told is “enough?””
There are those who profit unjustly from maintaining economic inequality in an outrageous state of separation. Their arguments are invalid, of course. They are self-serving, self-justification for rapine in the workplace. They keep ordinary Americans fighting each other rather than fighting for each other. The upshot is huge racial gaps in education, earning, wealth and power between Americans identifiable by race or ethnicity. And huge gaps by race deny on their face the very concept of equality, the very idea of freedom.
I wrote a much longer piece as a Skyword article, and as if to demonstrate the accuracy of the President’s assessment, the piece was flagged as hate speech within minutes of appearing.