This past week in Washington there were debates on if Dr. King's dream of 50 years ago has been realized, while at the same time, the Administration considered appropriate measures for atrocities in Syria.
The naysayers were out this past week as the country remembered the March on Washington fifty years ago. As dignitaries, including the President, spoke at the site of King's 'I Have a Dream' speech, many questioned: "Has the dream been realized?"
It is easy to lament the many challenges facing the nation, in particular people of color, and specifically African-Americans.
I myself questioned our progress a few weeks ago with a blog entitled "After Trayvon Does it Matter?" I related the growing list of indignities facing black America and how we have gone backward in many ways -- especially when we look at our disappearing middle-class. Yet, I concluded that "giving-up is not an option!" This is what I said and I still feel this way:
"In spite of....and BECAUSE of what we as African-Americans face in today's America --giving up is not an option. Here is why:
-If men, women, and children brought here in chains, and treated as chattel, did not give up their fight for dignity, neither will we.
-If the civil rights workers who were spat on, beaten, jailed, and killed so that we could have the right to vote, did not give up their fight for equality, neither will we.
-If the masses who spent MANY hours in line to vote in Florida in 2012, in spite of those who try to take away our voting privileges...well they did not give up. Even when they were told Barack Obama had won, they still stood in line to cast their ballot. They did not give up their right to vote, neither will we.
We will not give up.For our future....For our children...For Trayvon Martin...We will not give up on the promise of America."
But, back to "The Dream." I did not have the honor of knowing Dr. King, but I have to believe that fifty years later, having an African-American LEADER OF THE FREE WORLD...an African-American as PRESIDENT of America...standing there honoring your speech from 50 years ago...well, think about it... Personally, I think he would be pleased....and he would Thank God!
Yes...of course there is still much to be done...and we cannot be complacent because rights given by man can be taken away by man. We are human...there will always be wars, discrimination, and strife. But...it is important to take a moment to recognize significant achievements in our advancement as a country.
I often think of the elderly black folk....some in wheelchairs and walkers, braving the EXTREME cold and crowds to see in-person the swearing-in of Barack Obama as President. Especially at the first inauguration. (The second inauguration also had a good number of older Americans...probably those who didn't make the first one and said "I'm not missing this one.")
I remember thinking that some of the elders were there at great risk to their personal health. I heard that many traveled great distances to be there. Some were frail and shivering, but THEY SAW A BLACK MAN BECOME PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES in their lifetime. It was a significant life event for them. (And me). They said, "health be damned, I'm going!"
Now, there are those on the left and right who want to diminish the President's role....to paint him as lacking in many ways. On the left we find 'pundits' and 'leaders' who are jealous, and on the right we find those who seek to humiliate and tear-down the President at every turn.
It is perfectly acceptable not to agree with Barack Obama's policies. And...we must question him and hold him accountable as we would any political leader. HOWEVER...we can never think he is "less than" because he is African-American. He is intelligent, articulate, and QUALIFIED to be our leader.
The realization of King's legacy is that Obama is not the President of Black America....he is the President of ALL of America. If we are looking for problems to be solved within our communities we will have to look among ourselves and also start making some demands of our community and political leaders. And we MUST protect our vote.
Again -- Obama leads ALL of America. He is African-American but he is not the 'black' president. He is the President of the United States of America.....same as Washington, Lincoln, Truman, Kennedy, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, etc.
This is what King fought for...unimaginable in 1963.... and we should not let it be diminished.
THE SYRIAN STRATEGY?
The White House has made the decision that the government of Syria must be punished for the use of chemical agents against civilians. There are many questions to be answered, including:
Why would Assad authorize the use of these weapons knowing the possible repercussions? Was it a game of dare? Is his side loosing the civil war and needing to take extreme measures? Did the rebels stage the attack to pull America into the conflict? Are other countries involved? And...what is their endgame, and more importantly...what is our endgame?
Thankfully, the President remembered "who he is" and decided to take the case for a military strike to Congress, essentially saying...'okay Congress, pull up your diapers and vote!'
The GOP-led House, and many of their fellow Republicans in the Senate, have made a circus of Congress the past few years by being against virtually ANYTHING the Administration proposes! Will they put the country first this time and make their decision based on the case the Administration makes for striking Syria? Or, are they more concerned with trying to embarrass Obama...their strategy the past five years.
Questions must be asked of the Administration by Congress and the American people. In particular... what will the airstrikes accomplish? We paraphrase the Powell Doctrine (General Colin Powell)..."if you break it, you own it."
I trust the Administration will indeed make the case for action to prevent further atrocities such as this.