I think Martin Luther King Jr., were he alive today, might say:
Personal responsibility is the launching pad for success. All persons control their own destiny. Each person has dignity, and a measure of destiny within: When people hold fast to their ideals, their circumstances (such as race, gender, and class) are but the proving grounds of their gifts. Greatness is attainable, and each person has a unique destiny.
I see the greatness in everyone, and the unfortunate struggle and toil based on a small view of one’s self and of God. Much work needs to be done. Are parents setting an example for their children, on a daily basis? Are teachers facilitating greatness among their students? Do our institutions and their leaders focus on investing in the growth and development of their work force? Do our political leaders edify with their words and actions?
It is difficult to say yes, on the broadest social scale; but locally, within communities, in a home here and there, in a particular classroom, yes, those leaders are present. They meet at the dinner table, they volunteer with a kind word, they work, and they are beacons of peace and joy.
— Grant E. Collins II served as deputy director of the Office of Family Assistance at the Department of Health and Human Services.
A great portion of Dr. King’s speech is a blueprint for what he hoped America’s future would hold for its children. The dream that one day his children would “not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character” is one of the most memorable and repeated lines of the speech. In 1963, Dr. King refused to believe that there were “insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity.” These 50 years later, I am convinced that we have made substantial progress in extending economic and political freedom to all Americans. However, the success that we have seen in these areas is not so great that we can indulge in what Dr. King described as the “luxury of cooling off.” I’m the father of two teenaged African-American boys, and my dream for America’s future cannot be fulfilled as long as the African-American high-school dropout rate, unemployment rate, crime rate, abortion rate, and out-of-wedlock-birth rate continue to outpace the national average. We have come a long way but we still have some mileage left in our journey toward King’s vision of an oasis of freedom and justice.
— Derek Grier is senior pastor of Grace Church in Dumfries, Va.
There was a distinct difference between the speech delivered by Dr. King 50 years ago and the one made by his son last Saturday.
The elder King brought the crowd to tears of joy with the hope of increased equality and opportunity — a dream fulfilled. The son sought to bring about tears of self-pity and anger over things that are allegedly owed to the people in the crowd.
America is not fully equal, nor will it ever be. But it certainly is not the society of segregation and institutional racism that it was five decades ago. There will always be bias, but those who practice it openly are scorned and those who attempt to institutionalize it are prosecuted.
And there’s even more work to be done. Dr. King dreamed that his children could “one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin” — yet we have immortalized racial preferences.
Dr. King was pro-family, yet those who claim his legacy promote a welfare system that incentivizes fatherlessness.
Dr. King decried a racism that could strip a black child of his “self-hood.” Yet, today, a black baby is five times more likely to be aborted than a white baby.
Dr. King didn’t die for this. It’s terribly inconsistent with his dream, and it impedes true progress.
Dr. King would be proud of America’s racial progress but would encourage us to march on. He would certainly be proud of his niece Alveda King, who said, “As brothers and sisters, united by one blood, in one single race . . . we are called to love each other.” Most Americans agree with her.
We still have a long way to go. My hope is that, 50 years from now, we’ll all be closer to the mountaintop.
— Jerome Hudson is a member of Project 21, a black-conservative leadership network.