We Still Have The Dream

Ken Painter By Ken Painter, 29th Aug 2013 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Columns & Opinions

Five decades after Dr. Martin Luther King's most famous of speeches, this author opines about how far we've come, and where we've yet to go.

We Still Have The Dream

I was twelve years old when Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his most famous of speeches in Washington, DC five decades ago dreaming of the day when his children would be judged by the content of their character rather than the color of their skin. In those words and the words “I have a dream,” he forever branded in the minds of the entire world what it means to be a second class citizen for any reason anywhere striving to be equal with those who are in power, and to have that dream of pulling oneself up into equality with them through non-violent means.

I was only then becoming aware of my own gayness, and trying to cope with it in a straight society which led me into years of denial, and like so many men of my generation into a straight relationship and raising a family, but still one of not complete fulfillment, basically one of dishonesty with myself, my wife, my family, and most importantly with my God. It took me years of deep introspection and prayer to finally come to grips with who I really am and then finally to do something proactive about it, leaving the relationship before it destroyed us both.

My point in all of this is that after the five decades since this groundbreaking speech by Martin Luther King, Jr. attitudes have changed somewhat, yes, progress has been made, certainly. But never let it be said that racial bigotry is completely gone in America or the world. It would be naïve to make such a statement. Certainly (and without rehashing it) the George Zimmerman - Trayvon Martin affair could be debated ad infinitum over this. And more recently while attending a wedding in Zurich, Switzerland Oprah Winfrey went shopping in an upscale shop and was denied the opportunity of looking at a $40,000 purse she was interested in by a female salesclerk (who didn’t know who she was) and who obviously profiled her with this putdown, “It’s too expensive.” Oprah made no fuss, but simply said okay and quietly left the store. News of it made the worldwide airwaves, however, and an official apology was issued by the government of Switzerland no less.

We still have the dream of full first class status any of us in the world wherever we may be who do not have full equality whether we may be a female in a middle eastern country who finds herself not fully equal to a man, or perhaps we are a woman in America who does not receive the same pay as her male counterpart for doing the same job. Or perhaps you’re someone like me who is in a same sex relationship. I was married to a woman and enjoyed first class status for three decades, but now I’m married to a man, but our California marriage is recognized only as a civil union in Colorado where we now reside. Some benefits, yes, but not all. And what if we decided to move to another state like up to our beautiful neighbor to the north, Wyoming. We would have no benefit of marriage or civil union at all at this point in time! Is that right? Do you see my point?

Yes, Dr. King, we still have the dream 50 years later that all of us will be judged by the content of our character. Wouldn’t you like to be judged by that?

Tags

Dreams, Equal Access, Equal Rights, Equality, Equality Of Human Kind, Famous People, Martin Luther King Jr, Opinion, Opinion Column, Opinions, Opportunity, Segregation, Speeches

Meet the author

author avatar Ken Painter
Retired Chicago public school teacher. Singer, songwriter, musician, author, & opinionated old curmudgeon. Married to my husband & living in Colorado, USA. Also a father & grandfather.

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Comments

author avatar writestuff
22nd Oct 2013 (#)

ken,
Thanks for this post. It captured the true meaning of Dr. King's stance on equality. I participated in March on Washington which was truly about equality for all: equal rights means equal for all. PS.
Windy City still has issues with gender identity and same sex rights,but 'maybe next year' it'll be better.

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author avatar Ken Painter
22nd Oct 2013 (#)

Thanks so much for your comment. I really appreciate it especially from someone who participated in that historic march. As a former Chicago Public School teacher I've been following the news about the the gender equality issues in the news back there (plus my son and granddaughters still live in the area). It's my fervent hope that the issue will be settle for Illinois at least in the very near future.

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