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The Tentacle


January 20, 2003

Well, Dr. King, The Promised Land Is Still Ahead

Derek Shackelford

As we approach this national holiday celebrating the birth of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the question that must be remembered is whether his dream is still alive or is it a dream deferred?

Although progress has been made, we still have many more rivers to cross. Anytime the issue of race is discussed, fear and paranoia describe American society. Some folks will say that the playing field is equal and fair. Others disagree.

Even the famous quote from Dr. King beseeching us to "not judge a man by the color of his skin, but by the content of his character" will be repeated over and over. This quote is used on a regular basis in an attempt to bring all races together.

Many political, social, and community leaders use this as a way to say all is well and everything is on equal footing. President George W. Bush will use this on this day to bring America together. Folks will use Dr. King for a day, but not for a lifetime.

When examining Dr. King's life, do not just quote the comfortable; use the man's words to agitate the uncomfortable.

In his "I Have A Dream Speech," Dr. King challenged America on a bad check, which came back null and void; in other words, insufficient funds. When one looks at America today, it still comes up with insufficient funds.

Just recently the U. S. Senate had as its leader one Sen. Trent Lott (R., Miss.), who had an abysmal civil rights voting record and made some disparaging remarks regarding a past presidential election. The Republican Party decided to replace Senator Lott with Senator Bill Frist (R. Tenn.) who also has an abysmal civil rights voting record.

The more some things change, the more they stay the same. Last Wednesday President Bush made a public statement regarding his disapproval of affirmative action. In the words of the Washington Post, "if you don't get it, you just don't get it."

I know what some might ask. How can the President be against diversity? This administration has Colin Powell and Condoleeza Rice. Let us also tell the truth, these two individuals are more qualified than the current President. But General Powell and Ms. Rice also focus on foreign affairs and not on domestic policy.

Even the President used affirmative action: he got into Yale on his father's name. When we can first recognize there has been a dis-affirmative action for hundreds of years, then we can talk about a serious remedy.

What would Dr. King say today about discrimination in hiring practices, injustice in the criminal justice system, redlining by the banking industry, and different strokes for different folks?

I don't claim to know what he may say, but when people use the character quote by Dr. King, I sometimes wonder if they really know the true history of the man. Because, to me, every time I turn around, this quote resonates in my spirit. "We got some difficult days ahead. and I have seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you, but we are a people who will get to the Promised Land. So I don't fear any man.Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord."

Well, Dr. King, we haven't reached that Promised Land yet. But this I know. We have come this far by faith. If what has happened recently in this land does not make one see the light, then the heat should move one to action.

Happy Birthday, Dr. King!



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