Dreams not yet realized: The 52nd anniversary of MLK’s ‘I Have A Dream’ speech reminds us of where we are now, how much further we have to go

Take time today, August 28, to watch Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s iconic “I Have A Dream” speech. As you watch and listen, recognize the realities that African Americans still face today.

“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…

This week, election officials in Fulton County, Georgia admitted to breaking over two dozen state laws to discourage voters from casting their ballots. Fulton County, which includes Atlanta, has a large African-American population. Many eligible voters had their ballots refused at the polls or were directed to incorrect precinct polling locations.

…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…

Immediately after the Supreme Court struck down section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, Mississippi joined three other states in passing further restrictive voter ID laws that disproportionately (and many would argue, intentionally) affect ballot access for poor and minority voters.

…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…

Overwhelming data shows that African Americans continue to face immense discrimination in nearly every part of their lives. From housing, to education, to criminal justice, to school discipline, to employment opportunities, to personal finance. Every single person of color in the United States still experiences racism in their daily life.

…I have a dream today!

There’s nearly a 30% chance that an African American will be killed by police today. On average, two black people are killed by police every week.

…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…

Sixty-one years ago, the Supreme Court case of Brown v. Board of Education ended the “separate but equal” doctrine that had allowed for segregation of schools and educational oppression of black American students. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, school integration lead to major increases in black earnings and black student achievement. But, in 2000, a federal judge freed Tuscaloosa City Schools from a desegregation mandate. Since then, Tuscaloosa, Alabama has essentially resegregated its schools, once again putting poor, black students in separate school buildings that somehow receive less funding, less technology, and fewer opportunities for students. This isn’t just happening in Alabama. The Washington Post has made the case that schools are more segregated now than they were 40 years ago.

…I have a dream today!”

Today, a black first grader might receive an expulsion, while a white peer might receive only a detention. Today, a black woman will earn 64 cents to her white male counterpart’s dollar. Today, black activists and white allies are shamed for exclaiming that Black Lives Matter–not intending to imply they matter more than white lives, just that they simply matter. Today, we celebrate the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King; as we celebrate, we have to remember that those amazing dreams shared by millions of Americans are not yet fully realized. As we listen to his powerful words, we must commit to realizing the dream of equality and justice.