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MLK's Dream Still Not Realized

Christian Patterson |
August 28, 2013 | 4:16 p.m. PDT

Deputy Opinion Editor

We still have not accomplished King's dream. (Allie Caulfield, Wikimedia Commons)
We still have not accomplished King's dream. (Allie Caulfield, Wikimedia Commons)
The organizers of the March on Washington would be pleased by the strides the U.S. has taken since 1963.

Open discrimination in housing, education and a wide range of other areas has been outlawed. Leaders who openly judge people by the color of their skin, their socioeconomic class and their sex are openly castigated. And, we obviously can't forget the presence of an African-American family in the White House.

However, it would dishonor their legacies and sacrifices to pretend that we've realized the goals they marched (and often died) for.

We should remember that Bayard Rustin, lead organizer of the March, spent decades fighting for the equal treatment of the LGBT community. Fighting for rights that have not been recognized in 37 states, or in Washington, D.C., where members of Congress refuse to protect LGBT individuals from discrimination in the workplace.

We should remember Dorothy Height, leader of the women's groups essential to the March's success, who was excluded from a speaking role on that day. Especially when we we hear a politician pretend that the gap between the pay men and women receive does not exist, or when another election cycle passes with women making up only  19 percent of Congress.

We should remember that the official list of demands of the March included raising the minimum wage and more spending on public education and housing.

We should remember that Dr. King was assassinated in Memphis while organizing a strike for sanitation workers seeking fair pay and better working conditions.

We should remember activists like Rep. John Lewis who had his skull cracked open marching in Selma, Alabama, for a Voting Rights Act that was gutted by the Supreme Court earlier this year.

The "dream" that King spoke of on August 28, 1963 should not be treated as a checklist whereby each time the law changes, we check off another box. The dream cannot be achieved as long as there exists such a wide chasm between the income of blacks and whites, immigrants are treated as subhuman and the poor are seen as lazy and undeserving. Even if we pretend that such treatment does not exist.

We've come a long way since 1963. But those who think we've accomplished King's vision for America are still dreaming.


Reach Deputy Opinion Editor Christian Patterson here. Follow him here.



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