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Obama 2008

Martin Luther King Day

I got up this morning and listened to MLK's "I have a dream" speech. It is interesting because Solidad O'Brian, who is doing a special report on the King Papers, said that this part of the speech was done extemporaneously. He had put down is written speech and riffed on the vibe of the crowd.

The entire speech is 16 minutes long, and the "I have a dream" section is the last 3 minutes. I think people are so inspired about this section because its about the ideal. The ideal society in which people love one another and judge one another with fairness and openness. They never discuss the other parts of the speech because those sections were about the reality of contemporary black life. Even when you discuss contemporary racial and ethnic problems, people want to hear the dream of hope, not the action plan for justice.

So as part of my MLK celebration, I want to talk about the other parts of the speech: the bounced check, justice now, and coming long way.

The Bounced Check

This section is one of the most pertinant to the contemporary black experience because by putting social justice in monetary terms it brings out the issues of economic justice.  We may be able to ride buses and eat at lunch counters, but Blacks in the US continue to suffer from a deficiency of economic justice. We hang at the bottom rungs of all economic ladders. See Black profile from US Census. Download we-1.pdf Yet as Normal Kelly, author of Rhythm and Business is the notion of economic justice "a na├»ve concept in an aggressive capitalist society like America." But I think the issue of economic justice is the heart of the global fight against exploitation and oppression. Slavery existed because people figured out they could make money on the body and souls of other people. So the message of cashing in the bounced check of economic justice is one that still needs to be heard and the one the MLK was working on when he was assasinated.

Justice Now

This section of the speech is probably my favorite because it addresses the underlying cause of my inherent impatience. People are always telling me to wait and to take the "tranquilizing drug of gradualism," yet I believe that the things that need to happen are 100-200 years overdue. Black Americans had to wait nearly 200 years for their freedom due to being asked to wait for the promiseland. Injustice continues because people are being asked to to wait for the promiseland. What I appreciate about this section is that he says that justice must come now and things cannot go back to business as usual.

Coming a long way

This section of the speech is when MKL is "keeping it real" about the struggles that not just blacks but all of us go through when there is injustice in the world. He talks about those coming from prisons and ghettos. He talks about needed to understand the "common destiny" between blacks and whites. It is by understanding the journey of suffering that makes the Dream necessary and a promise.

So Happy Justice day!!! Let us seize reality so that our dreams of justice can come true.



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