Earlier today, I started to write a lengthy post, full of rhetorical barbs, attacking Republicans, which is a theme that you know that I enjoy immensely. I paused to run an errand a few miles from home, and while I was in the car, I heard a news story about one of the commemorative services being held in Washington, DC. The Master of Ceremonies was asking the assembled parishioners and clergy if Dr. King was alive today, would they would follow him? I thought it was an interesting question, and it made me think… but most importantly, hearing that question made me come up with a question that I think is even more important: If Dr. King were alive today, what would he think of the results of the movement that he championed and ultimately gave his life for?
I sat down this afternoon and listed some… just some of the things that happened as a direct result of the sacrifices made by Dr. King, his associates, and his followers. Today, as a 43 year old black man living in a southern state, I (and my family) can do the following things in relative safety:
Walk into any dining establishment, sit wherever I want, and eat whatever I can afford to pay for.
Vote (too many people had their skulls split; were attacked by police dogs, and were otherwise humiliated, to give me that privilege for me to ignore my civic duty)
Go to, or send my children to, any educational institution in this country, north or south, that their abilities and my wallet can send them to.
* Work anywhere I can get hired.
* Go to any church that I want to attend.
* My kid can, and does, play with the white and Latino kids in the neighborhood.
* My kid can go to any school in this county.
* My marriage to a white woman isn’t illegal.
* Sit anywhere I want in a movie theater or on public transportation.
These are just a few of the things that have happened in the single generation since King’s death. I think that Dr King would be exceptionally proud of the following:
* In the most recent Senate election in Illinois, the race was between two black men.
* A black man has been Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
* The same black man has been Secretary of State.
* A black woman succeeded that same black man as Secretary of State.
* Black men and women are appointed to federal judgeships.
* Black men and women are ordained clergy and installed as pastors of churches with ethnically mixed congregations.
* Black men and women lead multi-million (even mulit–billion) dollar corporations.
* There have been black Mayors in our largest cities; black governors (even in southern states), black County executives.
* Black men and women have been Chiefs of Police and Fire Chiefs in some of the largest cities in America.
* He would be pleased that because of his sacrifice, it isn’t even worth commenting about when black men and women travel into space anymore.
* He would be pleased that there are ships in the United States Navy named after black men.
* Black men and women are journalists, intellectuals, sought after professors, and published authors.
I submit, my friends, that Dr. King would be thrilled about the level of progress that has been made in this country.
Lest you think that I am wearing rose-colored glasses when I look at the current state of race-relations, I assure you that I am not. I think that there is still room for progress to be made, but I have to tell you that I am encouraged. I am encouraged by all of the changes that have taken place in this country within my own lifetime. I am most encouraged when I think of the continued progress that will take place in the lifetime of my own child.
I bid you peace,