So Let it Rain
January 17, 2003 6:51 AM Subscribe
Two score years ago, a great American, whose birthday we celebrate every year with a three-day weekend, stood in the shadow of the Lincoln Memorial and uttered those famous words, "I Have A Dream." Five years later, older and weary, saddened and yet emboldened for a new task, that man was assassinated in Memphis. He has rightly become an American icon, a symbol of all that we consider great about our nation. And yet is is the very fact of his apotheosis that has done his dream the most damage. Safely iconized and sanitized, MLK has been used cynically by his most bitter opponents, to ends he very clearly opposed during his life. The man who considered himself a democratic socialist, and who supported both reparations and affirmative action is used by conservatives to stymie the efforts of his philosophical and activist heirs. Some of them, like U2's Bono, want to save Africans from AIDS. Others, like Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, suggest a 10-year moratorium on the famous speech, so that we can pay attention to other, more important statements. King's last great effort was not a march to combat racism but rather a new initiative to end poverty, the Poor People’s Campaign. Thirty-five years later, the gap between rich and poor is larger than ever in this country, and our president, who claims to follow the same religion that underwrote all King said, did and thought, is conducting a war not on poverty, but on the poor. How many of us who, like G.W. Bush, pay lip service to the ideas of King and of Christ will stop stalling and stand up for justice?
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