Posts made in January 2019

I Have A Dream…


I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free; one hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination; one hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity; one hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself in exile in his own land.

So we’ve come here today to dramatize a shameful condition. In a sense we’ve come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was the promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note in so far as her citizens of color are concerned. 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. And 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 quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood; now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children. It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. And those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content, will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people, who stand on the worn threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protests to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy, which has engulfed the Negro community, must not lead us to a distrust of all white people. 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. And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone. And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back.

There are those who are asking the devotees of Civil Rights, “When will you be satisfied?” We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality; we can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities; we cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one; we can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating “For Whites Only”; we cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro in Mississippi cannot vote, and the Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No! no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until “justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations.  Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive. Go back to Mississippi. Go back to Alabama. Go back to South Carolina. Go back to Georgia. Go back to Louisiana. Go back to the slums and ghettos of our Northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed.  Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.

I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream 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.” I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, sons of former slaves and the sons of former slaveowners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood. I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice. I have a dream 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.


I have a dream that one day down in Alabama — with its vicious racists, with its Governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification — one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.


I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low. The rough places will be plain and the crooked places will be made straight, “and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.”

This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope.  With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brother-hood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.  And this will be the day. This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with new meaning, “My country ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my father died, land of the pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.” And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true.

So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire; let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York; let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania; let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado; let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California. But not only that. Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia; let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee; let freedom ring from every hill and mole hill of Mississippi. “From every mountainside, let freedom ring.”

And when this happens, and when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual: “Free at last. Free at last. Thank God Almighty, we are free at last.”


Source: Martin Luther King, Jr., I Have A Dream: Writings and Speeches that Changed the World, ed. James Melvin Washington (San Francisco: Harper, 1986), 102-106.


Common Sense: Diverse Newsrooms Could Lead To Less Apologies




Jeremy Kappell, the long-time Meteorologist at WHEC-TV in Rochester, NY lost his job after a slip of the tongue. Dropping the word “coon” albeit by accident, while uttering the sacred name of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. didn’t go over well with the public, Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren and eventually his bosses after some time lapsed and the public outcry didn’t quiet down as they hoped it would. I get it. People say things they don’t mean to say all the time. We take comfort with this phenomenon and Freudian slips when someone is usually drunk, angry or otherwise lucid and feeling unconstrained. In the age of Donald J. Trump, the 45th president of the U.S., these types of happenings are not just scrutinized; they’re scrutinized with suspicion of bold racism.

The lack of diversity in newsrooms, especially in small town America like the home of NBC affiliate WHEC, highlights the importance of hiring people of color. And WHEC actually reflects that compared to other local stations like WROC, WUHF and WHAM. Just take a look at their rosters; most of their employees are White. This, in a city where a 2017 snapshot by Suburban Stat reflects a diverse community; 43 percent White, 41 percent Black, 16 percent Hispanic and 3 percent Asian. If diversity wasn’t seen by some as what conservative talking bobble-head Tucker Carlson calls an attempt to make America “dirtier,” newsroom staffers would be more familiar working with non-white American journalists. Yes, we do exist. And, please spare me the, “but what about Al Roker, Deborah Roberts, Lester Holt and Tamron Hall” rebuttal on the lack of diversity in media. Unless there’s a quota on minority hires, it behooves news directors everywhere to consider hiring more POC deserving of a chance to build successful journalism careers.

I grew up watching my local anchors and learning from them. English, my 4th language, was primarily taken up from watching Linda Lorelle, Marlene McClinton, Dave Ward, Don Nelson, Jerome Gray, and even Jacque Reid as a teen in Houston, TX. Their work helped shape my own dreams of becoming a television news anchor. And, I would make a great TV news anchor in the small town I moved to in 2008 for the chance to build this dream…if only my skin color wasn’t my Achilles’ heel. You see, to even be granted an interview during my early attempts to work for the only local station at the time, WKTV, required me to go to the local NAACP chapter for support. Yes, you read that correctly. It took the head of the NAACP to force the news director at the time to begrudgingly consider my application. Every other attempt was simply dismissed. He didn’t offer me the job and during the interview demanded I tell my current radio employer that I’m looking to move on. The struggles I’ve had to endure in my skin, in this business, in this small town are real.

The media landscape has been changing for years thanks to advancements in technology and the birth of digital media. Broadcast companies have had to adjust accordingly. And that’s by cutting people, the most vulnerable ones; minorities and older journalists. Media companies want more for less. And they prefer it from a certain demographic; young, white and preferably a petite blond woman. Experience, diversity and the significance of journalism in our society are dying ideals. And the lack of diversity in media has other consequences in addition to the obvious ones. The media apology circuit is not new. It’s a communication strategy; apologize and hope it goes away; don’t apologize and hope your audience moves on to the next shiny thing; terminate, educate or circle the wagons. Big media companies are on a path that solidifies their power and devalues people. It’s a page ripped from Trump’s own playbook, and recent FCC changes reflect this inhumane shift.

Many violations have been made on and off the air similar to the mistake made by Kappell. And it won’t be the last blunder they’ll apologize for either…as long as we keep accepting it. Guess what that comes with? More of the same. Diversity in media is the key to resolving these long-standing cultural issues that divide us, but as long as those holding the key refuse to use it to open the door for minority journalists, they’ll just keep offering apologies. Sorry. Not Sorry.