Fifty years ago, on August 28, 1963, a young preacher stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, and proclaimed his dream in a speech that he entitled "A Cancelled Check,” to a segregated nation. The speech would later come to be known as the “I Have a Dream” speech. In his speech, which was delivered to the attendees of the 'March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom', the young preacher reminded us of the “fierce urgency of now.”
In his message to the nation, the preacher not only spoke eloquently of his dream, but he issued a warning, he said “It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. …Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. …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."
In the wake of Stand Your Ground and Right to Work laws, the Supreme Court decisions on the Voting Rights Act and Affirmative Action, it is important to read the entire speech and apply the lessons to the world in which we live today. On this day, we should remember the preacher as a revolutionary, and remember the speech as more than a dream, it was a call to action. On this day, this generation cannot overlook the fierce urgency of now. It is time that we finally finish the work that a King began. Our generation cannot rest, until all Americans are fully invested with the rights of citizenship. So, keep fighting until all Americans can go to the polls and cast a ballot without jumping through unnecessary and discriminatory hoops; until the voting machines, and staff in urban areas equal those in suburban areas, and minorities aren't waiting twice as long to vote; until all Americans have the right and freedom to marry who they love; until we protect all citizens against job, housing and public accommodation discrimination regardless of perceived sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression; and until workers are guaranteed a fair, living wage.
Stand up and push for action on poverty, climate change, gun violence, immigration and human rights across this country and across the world.
Courage will not and cannot skip this generation, because the struggle still lives on, and as Martin Luther King, Jr. said 50 years ago, we must continue to shake the foundations of our nation “until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”