I've been on record in my life as an opponent of this holiday. I had my reasons...my stupid reasons.
have President's Day and Veteran's Day and all sorts of days which are
primarily banking holidays and opportunities to look over sale ads.
Now, as a father I have to address these holidays. I can't just let
them pass by, because schools use these holidays to discuss important
benchmarks in history. I play a huge role in what my sons
will understand about all of these subjects.
son, now in 2nd grade, knows about "the dream." He understands how
weird and irrational segregation and racial discrimination sound. They
are the tri-corn hat of social opinion...old and funny looking...even
ridiculous. Understanding this is a major win and I don't take it for
But for us who get it...is there anything else
to learn? We have friends that are other races. We recognize bigoted
comments when we hear them and we're proud that we can be friendly to
people who don't look like us. I was really surprised when I listened
to the whole speech. There was way more I learned and still need to
I sat down with my sons and we listened to the
entire speech. The dream, while magnificent and memorable, was such a
small part of the speech. What Dr. King spoke a great deal about was
Dr. King went back 100 years to point out that
"the Negro still is not free." and then further back to the Declaration
of Independence and the Constitution and drew attention to their
"magnificent words" as a promise to our "Republic" of freedom for all
men. The language he chose, in modern context, would no doubt cause
The New York Times to wonder out loud if he was a secret member of the
John Birch Society...wait I said modern....uh...Tea Party. That's
Dr. King said that the signatures at the
bottom of these founding documents were like signing a promissory note
that the country would provide the protection of these unalienable
rights. While black Americans were attempting to cash the check and
finding out that the check wasn't any good...always hopeful, Dr. King
declared that "We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in
the great vaults of opportunity of this nation."
check. I'm not completely sure my son has seen me write a check. I
had to explain to my 2nd grader what a check was...and that bad check
amounted to a broken promise. We went on further to discuss that in
every generation someone tries to cash a freedom check only to find out
there's nothing for them either.
Now I'm sure to
some of you this is old news. Maybe you've given more thought to Dr.
King's words than I have. You'll have to pardon me though, I'm slowly
growing into it and becoming more aware with each year.
a lot in this speech and I think next year we'll take a little time to
discuss maybe the hardest part of the speech (for me
anyway)...responding to injustice from the "high plane of dignity and
Beyond the dream there are instructive
words for anyone seeking justice. There is advice that anyone seeking
freedom can use. Even if someday we completely stomp out bigotry
and racial intolerance there will forever be some important takeaways
from this wonderful speech.
I will use the holiday as an excuse to talk about it every year.