Posts tagged with "i have a dream"

New York Lawmaker Rises on ‘Moral and Legal Obligation’ Measure for Reparations

Rep. Jamaal Bowman, (D-NY) along with a handful of his democratic colleagues, have offered a $14 trillion pathway to finally reach a deal on the long standing issue of reparations.

The measure is calling on the federal government to be held accountable for slavery and the aftermath of it. The lawmaker cited the federal government’s response to the pandemic and the “space race” as examples that can make H.Res. 414 feasible. “When COVID was destroying us, we invested in the American people in a way that kept the economy afloat,” said Bowman. “The government can invest the same way in reparations without raising taxes on anyone.” “…Where did the money come from?” Bowman said. “We spent it into existence.”

Bowman is among nine sponsors of H.Res. 414, which seeks to establish that the US has “a moral and legal obligation to provide reparations for the enslavement of Africans and its lasting harm on the lives of millions of Black people in the United States.”

The measure would prompt the federal government to spend $14 trillion on a reparations program that would support descendants of enslaved Black people and people of African descent. Another measure to establish a federal commission on the impact of reparations was reintroduced this year and Bowman is a sponsor of it. The lawmakers say the bill must also address racial disparities in housing, mass incarceration, and education outcomes and “eliminate the racial wealth gap that currently exists between Black and White Americans.”

A recent report by David McKay Wilson in the Journal News provides this whitewashed summary on America’s long history with slavery:

“State-sanctioned slavery existed in what became the United States for 246 years. Ten of the nation’s first 12 presidents enslaved Black people, including one who engaged in slave trading from the Oval Office. Enslaved people — both in the North and the South — helped build our nation and were a foundation of the 18th and 19th century economies. The Hudson Valley’s Philipse family, with a mansion in Yonkers and a mill up the river at Philipsburg Manor, made a portion of their fortune through the slave trade.

New York’s gradual emancipation in 1799 subjected current slaves to lifelong bondage but granted freedom to those born after 1799 by 1827. National emancipation came in 1865, but freedom for the former slaves did not bring prosperity or the rights enjoyed by other Americans.”

Another important historical fact shared on X by Equal Justice Initiative states that on January 18, 1771, North Carolina approved payments of nearly 1,000 pounds, or the equivalent of $230,000 today, to “reimburse” white “owners” for enslaved Black people executed by the state.  Dr. Kind said “the time is always right to do the right thing,” especially when it comes to this long and arduous battle to bring about economic justice for Black people who built America under the brutality of slave labor, and creating the richest nation the world has ever known. In his famous I Have A Dream speech, he said, “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 security of justice. We have also come to his hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now.” America must now go beyond honoring Dr. King’s legacy and deliver this check to repair what remains broken.

The March On Washington 60 Year Mark

The March On Washington happened 60 years ago today. It was a call for a just America, like the one Langston Hughes poetically envisioned for Black people long oppressed by racism and terrorism under the American system of white supremacy law and governance. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his powerful I Have A Dream speech that fateful day. Its powerful message of hope for mankind is still a transcending tenor for future generations and a better humanity to come.  As we reflect on the 60 year anniversary of the March on Washington, contrasting the issues of that time and today, it is crucial We, The People apply a critical and objective eye at the pace and sincerity of pragmatic change. 

We can never forget how Dr. King delivered that powerful oration on this day 60 years ago.  And sadly, and as hate would have it, we can also never forget that his iconic I Have A Dream speech didn’t prevent the killing of four girls in the racial bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, just a few weeks after the March on Washington.  And 60 years later, despite the blood, sweat and tears, Black folks are still being terrorized by white supremacist, as the nation marks another mass shooting of Black people at a store in Florida two days ago.

60 years later, the time is ripe to ask our leaders where they are leading us. 

Editor’s Note: From the archives of the Library of Congress. 

The March on Washington

For many Americans, the calls for racial equality and a more just society emanating from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on Aug. 28, 1963, deeply affected their views of racial segregation and intolerance in the nation.  Since the occasion of March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom 50 years ago, much has been written and discussed about the moment, its impact on society, politics and culture and particularly the profound effects of Martin Luther King’s iconic speech on the hearts and minds of America and the world.  Several interviewees from the Civil Rights History Project discuss their memories of this momentous event in American history.

Click HERE to read more about the Library of Congress Civil Rights History Project.

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.