Today marks the 45th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I have a dream" speech, spoken at the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Dr. King gave his landmark speech during the March on Washington for jobs, justice and civil rights before a crowd of more than 250,000 people.
As the New York Times reported, at least five veterans of that march traveled to Denver this week as Barak Obama became the first African-American to lead a major party's ticket for the White House. Among them was Representative John Lewis of Georgia, who is the last man alive of the 10 who spoke that day at the Lincoln Memorial. The NYT explained:
...these veterans of the March on Washington are the living connective tissue to the America of 1963, when the police in some cities and towns still beat blacks with truncheons, and the story of their journey is as complicated as race itself.
Despite this week's landmark presidential nomination, this week is also the 3rd anniversary of Hurricane Katrina's landfall over the Gulf Coast, an event that showed the deep racial and class divisions that still exist in the United States more than four decades after Dr. King's speech.
We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy.