Monday, January 16, 2012

Honoring Dr. King’s Legacy

- By Keith Hosey -

Today is a moment we can take to celebrate a man who fought to make this country a better place, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He is one of my heroes because he tirelessly stood up for the true American dream, equality.

I want to share his “I Have a Dream” speech in the hopes that you take 17 & 1/2 minutes to experience it – especially if you have never listened to the whole speech.

Two parts have hit home with me this year. The first is:

“Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked "insufficient funds." But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check -- a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quick sands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children.”

Over twenty years after the ADA, the disability community continues to experience high unemployment. People can't get into inaccessible businesses and transportation is often inadequate. Many children with disabilities continue to be segregated in schools unnecessarily – some refused diplomas and forced into “certificate” programs, widening the gap of inequality. More than ten years after the Olmstead decision, even though the current government war cry is about budget cuts and fiscal responsibility, people with disabilities continue to be warehoused in institutions (at a much higher cost to the tax payer) instead of living in the community. We, too, should have the fierce urgency of now.

The other, which has always held a place in my heart - and why I chose the image above, is:

“…for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. They have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.”

Text of “I Have a Dream” (Because I couldn’t find a captioned video).

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