On Wednesday, August 28, 2013, President Obama gave a speech to the nation from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial commemorating the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s powerful I Have a Dream speech. He rightly described Dr. King’s speech this way, “His words belong to the ages, possessing a power and prophecy unmatched in our times.” Of the Civil Rights demonstrators who accompanied him to Washington that day Dr. King said, “In the face of hatred they prayed for their tormentors. In the face of violence, they stood up and sat in with the moral force of nonviolence.”
The occasion of the speech presented President Obama with a wonderful opportunity to comment on the works and words of Dr. King and of the new world order to which Dr. King had given birth.
Dr. King’s speech did not dwell on racial injustice. Rather, it was a testimony to the promise of America’s future. He said, “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed.” It was a message of nonviolence, promise, hope, and a wonderful future, a message wasted on President Obama.
No black conservatives spoke at this MLK Jr. commemoration, no black politicians, no surgeons like Dr. Ben Carson, no Supreme Court Justices like Clarence Thomas, no Congressmen like Allen West, no school choice or charter school activists, and no black Senators. I’m told that at the last minute, when it was much too late to accept the invitations, a few black conservatives had been invited.
This gathering was not called to bring Americans together, or to be a time of healing and brotherly love, or to celebrate the racial progress made during the past 50 years; nor was it to honor Dr. King and the black leaders of the 1963 March on Washington. It was merely a political stunt, a political confab designed to honor and puff up black and white Democrat party elites. That is why the speeches that day brushed aside subjects like self-reliance, honesty, decency, sacrifice and hard work.
The day cried out for the kind of leadership poet Josiah Gilbert Holland writing at the time of the Civil War when he said, “God give us men. A time like this demands strong minds, great hearts, true faith and ready hands … Tall leaders, sun crowned, who live above the fog in public duty and private thinking.” Instead, we have a President who may mean well but is incapable of dreaming Dr. King’s dream, who is surrounded by men and women who lack vision, revelation and a spirit of prophecy, to whom Dr. King would say, “We can no longer afford to worship the God of hate or bow before the altar of retaliation.”
President Johnson was fully prepared to implement the strong civil rights measures that Dr. King Jr. fought for and that would have led to full equality for all Americans, but the post-Martin Luther King Jr. black Civil Rights leaders failed to offer him such programs. They were too busy drinking from the cup of bitterness, hatred and self-aggrandizement. So no new black Civil Rights leader stepped forward to snatch the movement’s flag from Dr. King’s staggering grasp and shout “Follow Me,” and carry it forward into the sunlight of a brave new world. So when Dr. King was assassinated, not just a great black opportunity was lost, but a great American opportunity was lost.
Today evil is praised throughout the land as the foundations of law and order collapse, Seventy-Two percent of all black live births are out of wedlock and half of those remaining are aborted. These facts were omitted or glossed over at the commemoration. As a nation we need to refocus, to reset; we need a new vision and a new Martin Luther King Jr. We desperately need passionate new leaders, Democrat and Republican, with fire in their bellies and an American vision in their eyes.
So, let freedom ring and though we walk in present darkness, in the distance we can still see the glimmering light of opportunity, hope and deliverance signaling that one day this country will yet again rejoice in the goodness of its people and the greatness of its leaders. Yes, “God give us men! A time like this demands strong minds, great hearts, true faith and ready hands. “
Until then, “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed,” and take full advantage of its opportunities.
MAJ. GEN. JERRY RALPH CURRY, US ARMY RETIRED
Author: From Private to General and The Dream Continues