(Community Matters) 50 years later the speakers expanded the Dream to include women, immigrants, people with disabilities, gays & lesbians, and all Americans struggling to achieve middle class status & to stay in the middle class. The speeches weren’t exclusionary; they didn’t demonize. No one wanted anything less for anyone; they want more for all of us. And, President Obama reminded us that even progress suffers setbacks, whether Supreme Court decisions or legislative initiatives suppressing voters’ rights. These setbacks will not stop our march forward.
I am prompted by Linda Wertheimer’s memory that she remembers the speeches less than the hope shared by the tens of thousands assembled in 1963. Similarly, I was moved by hope and by our progress, by the mix of Americans and friends – black, white, brown and Asian . . . old, young and middle aged. There were people from all walks of life, from all corners of our country, from around the world. I didn’t count, but there were as many white people as black people, as many old Americans as young Americans. We’re at our most powerful when we stand for something rather than against. I’m reminded that we’re a country of abundance, not one of scarcity – and, when we view rights, property and opportunities as limited, we’re less American than our forebearers.
Sure we were there to hear our President, or because we couldn’t attend the first March. We were there to be a people . . . to reaffirm Dr. Martin Luther King’s Dream, to remember we’re the country which elected a Black president, twice . . . who believe in government to serve its people, that intervenes in commerce, banking, education and state & local government to ensure we have a fair chance. Dr. King’s Dream was for citizens of color to share in the great American Dream. The dream I witnessed was its reaffirmation and expansion – we’ll no longer discriminate on any basis; we’ll promote freedom, jobs & justice for every American. We continue on that path to a more perfect union, to the realization that all men (& women, gay & straight) are created equal and are due those unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.