Wednesday, August 28, 2013

'I Have a Dream' Speech, 50 Years Later

By Claudio Iván Remeseira | Posted Tuesday, August 27, 2013, at 6:45 p.m. ET. Last modified Thu, Aug. 29, 2013, at 8:25 a.m.

“I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character,” said Doctor Martin Luther King Jr. in one of his most memorable passages of the speech he gave on August 28, 1963, from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington.

In his stirring (and, at some points, improvised) oration (See full text), Doctor King managed to weave the message of the "fierce urgency of now" into the fabric of the foundational texts of American civic culture--most notably, the Gettysburg Address, the Emancipation Proclamation, and the Declaration of Independence--, and to connect it with the biblical narrative of Exile and Redemption and a broad range of literary references, from Shakespeare to Walt Whitman, delivering one of the greatest speeches of all time, a sermon that continues to resonate in people not only in the U.S. but across the world.

Yet five decades after that speech, just a bare majority of Americans, and fewer than 20 percent of African Americans, believe that dream has been realized.

A new survey by the Pew Research Center finds that fewer than half (45%) of all Americans say the country has made substantial progress toward racial equality and about the same share (49%) say that “a lot more” remains to be done.

And according to an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released last month, 54 percent of respondents agreed with the statement that America is a nation where people are judged by their character, not their skin color. Forty-five percent disagreed, including a whopping 79 percent of African Americans.  

These polls come in the wake of a Supreme Court ruling that voided a key provision of the 1964 Voting Rights Act and the adoption of  voting restriction measures by several states, as well as of the racially divisive repercussions of the Travyon Martin case and the stop-and-frisk debate in New York and elsewhere. 

Read more at NBC News.

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