The dedication of the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial provides an opportunity to reflect and commit ourselves to Dr. King’s work. The ceremony on Oct. 16 will also serve as a homecoming for people of every nation who heeded Dr. King’s dare to dream and then worked toward the twin goals of justice and equality. In addition we honor the sacrifices of those who marched, sacrificed, and died – including Dr. King – in the struggle for equality and equal justice under law.
But what exactly was King’s dream? The easy answer is an America free of racial injustice. But Dr. King understood that at the root of racial injustice lay economic injustice. Poverty went hand-in-hand with segregation. Poverty kept African Americans struggling under the yoke of segregation, and poverty bred the racism and ignorance that made segregation popular amongst their poor white neighbors. Dr. King dreamed to end not just racial injustice, but the poverty that had allowed it to flourish.
When you examine the levels of poverty and unemployment in the nation today, when juxtaposed against the current levels of defense spending from a decade of war, I believe that Dr. King would determine that the nation had failed to heed his vision of jobs, justice and peace.