Did Martin Luther King’s ‘Dream’ Come True?

Respectfully Submitted by Lawrence Rafferty (rafflaw)-Guest Blogger

On Monday we celebrate the life of the Reverend Martin Luther King and honor him for his work with the Civil Rights movement.  One of his most famous speeches was the 1963 “I Have A Dream” speech that he gave in Washington, D.C. to a crowd of thousands.  In that speech he laid out his vision and hopes for the Civil Rights movement.  I would like to review some of his words and discuss if his dream came true for African-Americans and minorities throughout our country. “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.” ‘ Huffington Post

Those words seem clear enough, but at the time Rev. King gave this speech, it had been 100 years since Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation and the African-American was not free and equal to the white man in this country.  Jim Crow laws throughout the South kept African-Americans isolated and humiliated.  Lynchings and beatings were still far too common.  So how has the South progressed since Dr. King expressed his dream?

It seems clear that life in the South has improved for African-Americans.  African-Americans have become professionals and teachers and even Mayors of cities and towns throughout the South.  Black Congressmen and women have been elected from the South and Jim Crow is but a remnant of the history books.  In the North, Blacks have also progressed in all walks of life.  One African-American of mixed heritage grew up to be elected to the Illinois State House and the United States Senate and made it all the way to the White House.  The ability of Barack Obama to become President was made possible by Dr. King and his comrades who brought the Civil Rights movement to all of our doorsteps.

Do these successes mean that Dr. King’s ‘Dream” did come true?  I submit that at least one aspect of his dream is partly unfulfilled.  While African-Americans have made significant progress, they still lag financially behind their white counterparts.  “The gap between Black and white household [accumulated] wealth quadrupled from 1984 to 2007, totally discrediting the conventional wisdom that the U.S. is slowly and fitfully moving towards racial equality, or some rough economic parity between the races. Like most American myths, it’s the direct opposite of the truth. When measured over decades, Blacks are being propelled economically downward relative to whites at quickening speed, according to a new study by Brandeis University.”  Alternet   Without equal opportunity in the financial arena, can it truly be said that Dr. King’s dream has come true?

“A huge wealth gap has opened up between black and white people in the US over the past quarter of a century – a difference sufficient to put two children through university – because of racial discrimination and economic policies that favour the affluent.  A typical white family is now five times richer than its African-American counterpart of the same class, according to a report released today by Brandeis University in Massachusetts.  White families typically have assets worth $100,000 (£69,000), up from $22,000 in the mid-1980s. African-American families’ assets stand at just $5,000, up from around $2,000. A quarter of black families have no assets at all. The study monitored more than 2,000 families since 1984.  “We walk that through essentially a generation and what we see is that the racial wealth gap has galloped, it’s escalated to $95,000,” said Tom Shapiro, one of the authors of the report by the university’s Institute on Assets and Social Policy.”  Guardian

While significant progress has been made in many areas, the African-American is still trailing far behind his white brothers and sisters financially.  If that huge disparity in income and assets can’t be shrunk, will the Black man ever be truly free?  Dr. King initiated a huge improvement in the freedom for many, but his work is not completely done.  When we celebrate the day set aside to honor his legacy, maybe we should think of ways that the financial gap between blacks and whites can be narrowed.  Without all people being equal in all areas, how can any of us really be free?  What ideas do you have?

Additional reference:  US Constitution.net


75 thoughts on “Did Martin Luther King’s ‘Dream’ Come True?

  1. Lotta. The majority of them are older white people who want to cling to the past. They turnout to vote in very high numbers. They voted for the Tea Party last time.

  2. AMS & Mike; I think I am a bonafide member of the OFC (Old Farts Club) as well. And like the two of you, there is nothing wrong with my memory or my situational awareness. I am worried for the health of our country, economy and the general welfare of our people. That OFC member Ben Franklin was right. Old guys seem to be more aware of long term consequences of current actions.

  3. I received this from the Alan Grayson for Congress campaign:

    In America, whites have 20 times the wealth of African-Americans. So says census data.

    Not 20% more. Not twice as much. Twenty times as much. Specifically, the median household wealth for whites in 2009 was $113,149, and the median household wealth for African-Americans was $5,677.

    When I heard this a few months ago, it was not entirely news to me. When I was in Congress, I read the reports that the Federal Reserve sent to Members; to me, that was interesting reading. In the appendix to one of those Fed reports, from a survey of respondents selected in 2007, these numbers caught my eye:

    White, non-Hispanic households – $149,900
    Hispanic and African-American households – $23,300

    So from $149,900 down to $113,149, and from $23,300 (including Hispanics) down to $5,677. These numbers confirm just how hard the Great Recession has whacked minority households.

    But there is a deeper issue. Can someone please explain to me how, in a country where we are told again and again that we are “all created equal,” one group ends up with 20 times as much as another?

    MLK’s dream was that his four young children would “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.” What are we supposed to think – that one group has twenty times as much character as another?

    In the face of incredible numbers like these, you will still find right-wingers who insist that America is now a color-blind society (except for the scourge of “reverse racism”). But the numbers tell a different story. They suggest that America is not a color-blind society, but rather a racism-blind society.

    And ask yourself: when has any elected official, ANY elected official, ever discussed this inconvenient truth, and tried to discern what should be done about it? Why is there a veil of silence over such a salient, central fact about the country we all share?

    I went to a wonderful parade on Saturday, celebrating Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday. And if there is one thing that we know in Central Florida, it’s how to put on a parade; we have several every day. All those smiling, happy faces that I saw on Saturday.

    And it’s not my job to rain on anyone’s parade. That’s why I’m saying this today, not yesterday, when we celebrated Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday. But here we are, 49 years later, his “four young children” as old as I am, and one of them already gone from us.

    And I have to say, about that dream of equality that he had, it’s still just a dream.

    Just a dream.


    Alan Grayson

  4. Lottakatz.

    “Even though I have stopped by your site and Dredd’s I can’t post comments thereon. I don’t have an account on a site that will allow me to do so.”

    Angry Man Speaks’ blog is hosted by WordPress as is the Turley Blog. You may be able to post as on the Turley blog by giving just an email address and your name/alias. If not it is easy to acquire a WordPress blogger id.Dredd’s site is hosted by Blogspot, ie Google, you can post if you acquire a Google blogger id.

  5. I was very moved and inspired on this Dr. King’s day. Dr. King was a very great man, and I am very disappointed that I will never get to meet him in person.

  6. Carlyle Moulton, Thanks, I’ll try AMS site again. I unsubscribed to my Google account (also Facebook) so Blogspot sites are no longer accessible to me.

  7. “EXCLUSIVE: Rarely Seen Film “King: A Filmed Record” Traces MLK’s Struggle From Montgomery to Memphis”


    “In a Black History Month Special, we air excerpts of a rarely seen Oscar-nominated documentary about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the rise of the civil rights movement. Produced by Ely Landau, “King: A Filmed Record… Montgomery to Memphis,” is made from original newsreel footage and other original video footage shot of marches, rallies and church services. “King” was originally screened for one night only in 1970 in more than 600 theaters across the United States, but has rarely been seen since. We air extensive footage of the film, featuring a historic look at the eight-year period that led up to the 1963 March on Washington, D.C.”

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