The birthday of the foremost civil rights activist in the United States – Martin Luther King – will be honored with a federal holiday this year on January 17.
Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech has become one of the greatest in American history.
“I have a dream,” he said in that inspirational 1963 speech, “that my four little 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.”
This year – 43 years after the assassination of that great American hero – we must reflect on whether or not the dream Martin Luther King lived and died for has come true, or whether it has been deferred for the estimated 41.8 million black residents living in the United States.
On the plus side: The United States now celebrates its first African-American president. More blacks are getting higher educations. According to the most recent statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau, there were 2.5 million black college students in the fall of 2008. This was roughly double the corresponding number from 25 years earlier.
The number of black-owned businesses totaled 1.9 million in 2007, up 60.5 percent from 2002. And, according to the Census Bureau, receipts for black-owned businesses in 2007 were $137.4 billion, up 55.1 percent from 2002.
But poverty rates for blacks, according to the Census Bureau, stood at 25.8 percent in 2009.
“I have a dream,” Martin Luther King said, “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.’”
African-Americans have, undeniably, made progress in achieving true equality in mainstream American society. But what do you think? Has the dream of Martin Luther King been realized, deferred, or is it simply a work in progress?