Monday, January 19, 2009

Still Waiting

January 19, 2009

Our local newspaper has fallen on harder times. Some people complained so loudly when the publisher recently ditched the daily television program guide as a cost savings measure that he reversed the decision a few days later. Whew! We can still plan what we want to see on tv, but the articles have shrunk to nothing--either canned from the wire service or like Cliff notes of real happenings. The actual dimensions of the paper have shrunk, too, and there is a lot more white space (this happens as a natural consequence when you write down fewer words). All these changes made me sad. I like to read my local morning paper when I drink my coffee. These days, I have finished the whole paper before my coffee cools enough for the first sip.

Sad, but not enough to send me on a tear. That happened this morning. Years ago, I developed a newspaper-dependent, MLK-Day habit. For as long as I can remember, our local paper has printed the full-text of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have A Dream" speach, on the editorial page on MLK Day. And for equally long, I have insisted on reading it, in its entirety, outloud to Walter, Davis, and Erin over breakfast. I always cry towards the end, but keep on reading, even if I have to pause a bit to let my throat unconstrict and help my voice from cracking too much. It wasn't there today, and I have been grumpy about it ever since.

I didn't want to leave the breakfast table, fire up the computer, and find it on the internet. I wanted Erin to know that the ideas and ideals in the speech were important enough to appear in the local paper. . .important enough for her to remember them, yet again. So I will have to do it myself. . .

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. And so we've come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we've come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the "unalienable Rights" of "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked "insufficient funds."

But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so, we've come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.

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. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. And those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. And there will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people, who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice: In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.

The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom.

We cannot walk alone.

And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead.

We cannot turn back.

There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?" We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the negro's basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their self-hood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating: "For Whites Only." We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until "justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream."¹

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. And some of you have come from areas where your quest -- quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive. Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed.

Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends.

And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little 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.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of "interposition" and "nullification" -- one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; "and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together."2

This is our hope, and this is the faith that I go back to the South with.

With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

And this will be the day -- this will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with new meaning:

My country 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing.

Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrim's pride,

From every mountainside, let freedom ring!

And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true.

And so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire.

Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York.

Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.

Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado.

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California.

But not only that:

Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee.

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi.

From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:

Free at last! Free at last!

Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!3

Sorry to take you down that rant path. . .Back to regular programming.

Erin is still waiting on a treatment plan. I was A-Okay with this until she woke up Saturday morning with some aches and pains. Maybe normal for a middle schooler. Maybe not.

I guess there comes a time on every vacation, when you start getting tired of the scenery and start thinking about getting on home. I think that's where we are now. I have emailed Dr. Russell. I feel strongly that we will have Erin back on treatment by the end of the week.

Today is Walter's birthday. Erin made him a stress stone in the fused-glass workshop last Wednesday. She told him to carry it to work in his pocket and rub it when he felt stressed out, since "you know, dad, how many things at work cause stress."

She has also worked diligently on another project. Lara and Elle Weberling (on Han's team) started making beaded lanyards that hold IDs (like nurses and teachers have to wear) several months ago to raise money for Lunch for Life and the CNCF. Erin got in the act and started making them and selling them at her school. The teachers at Jane Long have been extremely supportive (so much so, that Erin couldn't keep up with orders). Yesterday she enlisted her friends in the Older Elementary Fellowship at church to pitch in, and they spent three hours designing and building lanyards.

They are so colorful and whimsical, who could resist?

I have another Willie story, "Willie Meets the Deputy Sheriff," that will have to wait for another day (the newspaper may have cut back on word count, but I certainly haven't). Instead, I will leave you with a photo of Teddy that Erin took, entitled, "Nothing Cuter Than Me."


  1. now i get it! why erin is as cool as she is. obviously she gets it from her mom. :) i imagine you are looking forward to tomorrow as well? as i type this it is 13.5 hours until mr bush is gone from office.

  2. thank you for posting the full speech,
    Tomorrow is another special day. will be watching on or My sister will be actually be there! Hope the kids get to watch in school!

  3. Hey love the lanyard's!
    If she has an extra... I need one!

    Thanks for the speech!
    Hope to see you soon!

  4. I'm glad you're keeping your word count up, up, up! I always enjoy your writing.

    Becky Smith

  5. I want an Erin lanyard.

    Teddy is right, there is nothing cuter....

  6. btw - does erin need any help making lanyards? i know - maybe this is an odd offer - but i'm always knitting stuff and i'd be happy to knit some lanyards... or - hats ( - a sample)? i'm always knitting hats. i know - most of the magic is the fact that it's ERIN that's making them. anyhow - if there's anyway i can help erin through my own crafty work, let me know. knitting = best procrastation from writing tool.

  7. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!