A few years ago while heading in to work on L.A.’s 405 freeway, I heard a radio interview with writer Shelby Steele. He made a comment that Dr. Martin Luther King’s parents were staunch Republicans. I don’t know where he got that information but unlike others, when conservatives lie and get caught, they lose all credibility. I took comfort taking him at his word.
It prompted me to make a call to someone I know in D.C. to find out what Dr. King’s party affiliation was. One would think someone who is “owned” by the Democrats would be one. Conversely the argument can be made that children tend to share the same values as their parents.
However, my research came up dry, which puzzles me. If Dr. King were a Democrat, it would be in our face. But no such pronouncement has ever been made. I suspect Dr. King was an Independent purely for the appearance of neutrality.
On its 50-year anniversary, I will attempt to interpret Dr. King’s legendary speech. I am not an Ivy League scholar. I am not an African Studies laureate. I am not a famous historian. I am just a black conservative who just may see things a bit differently than liberals would allow if they could stop me.
There are certain phrases in the “I Have A Dream” speech that could make the argument that Dr. King was conservative. So I won’t be accused of taking something out of context, I examined the entire speech….
Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of captivity.
The “great American” Dr. King is obviously referring to was President Abraham Lincoln, a Republican.
But one hundred years later, we must face the tragic fact that the Negro is still not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize an appalling condition.
Dr. King delivered this speech during the tail end of the Civil Rights Movement and on the eve of the Republican-led passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Until then, unbridled discrimination against Blacks was real. But if he were to deliver this speech today, that paragraph would acknowledge that legalized racism is a thing of the past. No one is forcing Blacks to live on the “lonely island of poverty”, although that’s where some white liberals would expect to find us.
Even though most liberals picture Blacks as poverty-stricken and down-trodden despite the “vast ocean of material prosperity”, many Blacks today own at least one color television, one car, stereo system, have air conditioning, private bathroom, nice clothes, jewelry, a computer, and at first glance seem fairly well fed. The people who bewail American Blacks as some of the most impoverished in the world are simply ignorant, liars, or maybe a combination of both. Sure, things could be better but for the most part, opportunity is there for whoever applies themselves.
Instead, liberals have been allowed to segregate Blacks into the housing project mindset. We as a people are expected to bow down and kiss the feet of a liberal government massah who feeds us with degrading notions like food stamps and provides our “expected” illegitimate children with a substandard education that would never be tolerated in white communities.
Liberals always claim to want to “help” us but their overall success track record really sucks. They play on emotion by pointing out racism whether real or not in an effort to give us just one reason to “need” them.
In a sense we have come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men would be guaranteed the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.” But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check – a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to open the doors of opportunity to all of God’s children. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood.
For the most part and thanks to many people fighting many little battles, the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuits of happiness are pretty well attainable. By the way, attainable means earned. Although it’s there, it takes longer to secure any of those things if you wait for them to come to you.
America hasn’t defaulted on the promise. Liberals have, and have done so ever since they’ve successfully rewritten their history (and voting record) by self-proclaiming themselves as the “Party of Civil Rights”.
It can be considered “insufficient funds” when certain people promise Blacks the answers to problems they don’t intend on delivering. It can be considered “insufficient funds” when certain people treat Blacks like children that can’t take care of themselves and should be pitied. It can be considered “insufficient funds” when certain people forgive bad behavior as they would that of their dogs: “They don’t know any better.” It can be considered “insufficient funds” when certain people spend decades promising a gradualism resulting in our present-day formula of segregation.
It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment and to underestimate the determination of the Negro. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.
That day came, Dr. King would be proud, and deservedly so. But we should now resist the temptation to succumb to the squealings of those who think we can’t handle our liberties unsupervised.
Sometimes I think it’s the determination of the Negro that scares liberals. Los Angeles talk show host Larry Elder has quite accurately reminded us (and I paraphrase) that blacks have come the furthest forward from the farthest behind, or something insightful like that….
Blacks deserve the same options and roadmaps to prosperity as everyone else. For example, one good first step is school choice. Education is the ticket; vouchers are a means; that is if liberals will ever allow us permission to access them.
But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.
Someone need read that paragraph to the Congressional Black Caucus, Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Tavis Smiley, Danny Bakewell, Julianne Malveaux and all other pissed-off blacks of influence who perpetuate the black inferiority notion while enjoying their own lives of equality and opulence.
It’s like they drool, waiting to pounce on the Trent Lotts while turning a blind eye to the Robert Byrds. They wish to destroy their established enemy while smiling and joking with the one wearing the same uniform.
We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny and their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.
“No justice, No peace!”
– Congresswoman Maxine Waters on the eve of the Los Angeles Riot
I still believe to be a good Black Democrat in today’s America you must believe “All white people are racists… except the ones you know.” The “ones you know” are usually white liberals who always seem to feel our pain, yet do little to alleviate it. To free Blacks would mean to lose that one group they constantly use, yes — USE, to equate historical persecution with contemporary inconvenience.
Some of the whites who marched with Dr. King are now the very ones (quite liberal) denying Blacks freedom by treating them like soulless pets.
And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “When will you be satisfied?” We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.
Civil Rights is a business. There are some that earn a living finding racist bogeymen around every corner; thus they cannot afford to be “satisfied”.
Blacks today have unfettered access to motels, and can vote fairly-easily except in districts run by Democrats (see Palm Beach, Florida 2000). Also, Blacks have little to complain about justice-wise. O.J. was found not guilty and Rodney King still has a driver’s license.
Things aren’t so bad.
I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.
Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.
It’s so easy to contrast the attitude displayed by Dr. King in this speech. He, like most conservatives, tells Blacks what they can do instead of what they can’t. He exuded faith in a positive outcome, not fear of an imaginary negative predetermination.
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”
It’s funny: these are the most recognizable and quoted lines from the speech. But of all the words of wisdom contained herein, it was the obvious that had the most impact.
And if Dr. King delivered that speech today, modern-day activists might have called him naïve and a sell-out. He definitely would be regarded a sexist neocon for granting only men as being created equal.
The rest of the text would’ve been rendered irrelevant.
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slaveowners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
Not while there is such an embraced concept like “Affirmative Action”.
This is where Dr. King could be exposed as a potential conservative. There are very few statements that bare the very essence of true equality, not vengeance. Today’s so-called Civil Rights “leaders” claim that only redirection of inequality is a remedy, and claim so with a smile.
I have a dream today.
If not copyrighted by the King family, those five words might’ve already appeared on an ad for Sony, or Nike, or Microsoft, or Lexus.
I have a dream that one day the state of Alabama, whose governor’s lips are presently dripping with the words of interposition and nullification, will be transformed into a situation where little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls and walk together as sisters and brothers.
George Wallace was that governor of Alabama. He was America’s posterboy for Civil Rights-era racism, and a typical 60’s era Democrat. He just didn’t hide it.
It always amazed me how easily little kids, who are unacquainted with the ways of racism, play and get along. Racism is taught and is not intuitive. I’ll even go out on a limb and declare that a fact.
Even so, there are those on both sides who teach hate and bigotry for a variety of motives. Some people seek isolation. Some seek to earn a living, and people have died because of both. People who lynch are as much killers as those who incite riots where innocents and participants die.
Think about it.
I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.
Dr. King was a genius and a man ahead of his time. He left out all reference to the Ten Commandments….
This is our hope. This is the faith with which I return to the South. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.
Okay, he’s skillfully building to a crescendo, but what’s up with the “go to jail together”? He’s not very clear about being a visitor or a resident.
This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with a new meaning, “My country, ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.”
There are those today who regard that song as racist since it’s an anthem that celebrates a bunch of white, genocidal pilgrims. It’s a shame that portions of one of the greatest orations of all time might be whittled down so it could be delivered on a super-sensitive, politically correct, pro-Affirmative Action college campus.
All references to a god or supernatural lord would have to be removed, and all references to a person would have to be gender neutral to include all possible variations.
And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!
Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!
Let freedom ring from the curvaceous peaks of California!
I don’t mean to sound disrespectful, but was that line about California a double entendre?
Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!
Let freedom ring from every hill and every molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.
When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”
Dr. King didn’t seem to leave out any major groups, ‘cept Muslims and Palestinians.
Of course, that wasn’t intentional….
So much of his message was of hope and not condemnation. This was not the kind of speech a liberal Black person could deliver today as is. It would be focus-grouped within a demographic, and the Republican Party would be the preferred villain.
Today, old Black men and women in $1000 outfits are perpetuating victimology so they can personally stay in the good graces of a Party, which can also be personally lucrative. I could never understand preaching about the inequities of life and being driven off in a limousine.
But maybe one day, Blacks will be blessed with options. They will have a choice of where and how to educate their kids, who they can vote for, how much money they can make and not be limited to what the government grants them. They will be considered full Americans and not a hyphen thereof.
I have a dream too.