Monday, 19 August 2013

"I have a dream"

My article in the most recent edition of the Cornish Guardian focuses on an important anniversary. It was as follows:

August marks the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s famous “I have a dream” speech. Delivered from the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC, it is remembered as one of the most significant moments for the civil rights movement in 1950s/1960s America.

Dr King’s determination to oppose racial segregation and discrimination across certain states in the southern part of the United States of America – where many black people were even denied the vote – was truly courageous.

His words still ring out with real power and clarity, such as his statement that: “I have a dream that one day … the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slaveowners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood.”

And his desire that parts of the US “sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.”

As well as his hope that his “four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character.”

The bravery of the men and women who stood up against such injustices should be remembered. Many even risked their lives during these troubled times and Dr King was himself felled by an assassin’s bullet in Memphis, where he was to lead a demonstration of sanitation workers protesting against low wages and poor working conditions.

Dr King and colleagues greatly changed attitudes in the US and, as a consequence, throughout the wider world.

Barack Obama is the President of the United States – something that many in America in the 1960s would have considered impossible. But anyone who follows American news knows that there are still significant problems across the country, and the battle for a fairer, more inclusive and tolerant society continues.

But five decades on from the “I have a dream” speech, we should celebrate how individuals and communities can make a real difference and make the world a much better place.

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