Honoring Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King: A Dream Deferred

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What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up

like a raisin in the sun?

Or fester like a sore—

And then run?

Does it stink like rotten meat?

Or crust and sugar over—

like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags

like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

–Langston Hughes

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I believe we are nearing an explosion. There has been too much innocent blood shed in this country. There have been too many funerals honoring innocent black men, women and children—taken from this world through acts of violence—by those sworn to protect them.

In his poem Harlem Langston Hughes questions what happens to a dream deferred. The poem doesn’t end with an answer but instead an image. The image of an explosion, passion bubbling up to the surface until it can no longer be held or tempered.

2013 marked the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. This month marks the 50th anniversary of the march in Selma, Alabama. The march so beautifully portrayed in director Ava Duvernay’s film Selma in theaters now. It’s been 50 years since African American citizens of this country fought to be seen as such—full and equal human beings in the eyes of the law. Yet, here we are with a renewed but arguably old battle cry, “Black Lives Matter”.

The civil rights leader Martin Luther KI

The Dr. Martin Luther King holiday is used by many as a day of service and a day of reflection. This holiday however, I can’t help like many, to reflect on how much work is still left to be completed. He fought tirelessly for voting rights, yet here we are with ministers and citizens across this country re-litigating this fight whose result we thought were carved in marble. He fought valiantly for jobs and yet here we sit with our facts and analytics that tell us that African Americans make only 50 cents for every white man’s dollar. He fought courageously to end legalized domestic terrorism that saw thousands lynched, black communities torched and little girls blown up. Yet, here we sit grieving the killings of black men, women and girls at the hands of the state whose killers will never see the inside of a courtroom and whose souls see no cause for concern at the taking of an innocents life.

This weekend in honor of Dr. King I locked arms with friends and strangers to sing “We Shall Overcome”. The lyrics came to me as a question rather than a statement. We Shall Overcome? When?

I want desperately to believe that the moral arc is long and that it bends towards justice, but as tanks rolled through a suburban neighborhood as a means to prevent a free communities’ right to protest, right to grieve and gather in solidarity—doubt crept into my mind and heart. How many more will have to die? How many more conversations will we have to have about racism, white privilege and colorism?

As I watched the film Selma, with it’s honest and human portrayal of Dr. King, I was able to see that he too had doubt. That he too wondered if the marches, boycotts and deaths would make a difference.

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It’s often said that if you don’t learn your history then you are destined to repeat it. If this is true, let us repeat the victories. Let us repeat the marches, boycotts and calls to action that helped raise the consciousness of our country. Let us repeat the solidarity and belief that small groups of impassioned people can make a difference. Let each us repeat Dr. King’s dream until it becomes our reality.

#MarchOn #WriteOn #SpeakOn #PreachOn #PrayOn #BoyCottOn #TweetOn

Video Inspiration: Politini sits down with Members of the Congressional Black Caucus to discuss how they continue to bring the FIRE