I’d like to celebrate the “I Have A Dream” speech in my own way. To me it was the most important event of my life even though I wasn’t even alive yet. But I was moved by Martin Luther King’s speech, because it meant that there was more to life than the status quo, that sometimes doing what is right and doing what you’re told to do are not the same thing.
Sometimes doing what you feel is right, following your heart is better and more just than doing everyone else tells you is right. Why should I be forced to the back of the bus? thought Rosa Parks. Why should someone be told that he or she can’t sit at a counter, or drink from a water fountain? Be denied a living, or a life they wish to have (as a doctor, a lawyer, a senator or even a poet) because they’re told they’re not allowed or that they’re stupid for dreaming such dreams. It just isn’t done, some will say. Separate but equal, no such thing exists; it’s a lie that the rule makers tell themselves to make themselves feel better.
I knew it when I was a kid, when my parents told me what I couldn’t have, what I shouldn’t be when I knew it wasn’t wrong to want those things (this wasn’t about being able to stay up late, or eat candy, or doing my homework or housework; this was about wanting to be a writer, to have a voice, to be able to make my own life mistakes). When I heard that speech, it confirmed what I already knew to be right; all men (and women) are created equal and that no one should be denied the right to pursue their dream or to be given proper respect for their humanity. That we should work together to build a more just society and that we should all be given an equal voice – and listened to.
The Supreme Court just blew the wind out of the Voter’s Rights Act, a nod toward Separate But Equal and they should know better. But even those of us who violently disagree with their actions and those violently uphold them, we both know that it is wrong. They, the upholders, will say things like, “separate but equal”, and, “we’re just making sure that we’re being totally fair”, and, “we’re just trying to stop voter fraud”, and they will know that they are the ones being frauds.
Still let them talk. We too will voice our voice and we will march. We will commemorate Dr. King’s speech and we will never, never, never, NEVER be silent. Eventually, Right will find the light, because injustice cannot be borne by a righteous society. And are we? We can only be so if we do NOT stay silent.
So, let Langston Hughes remind us, in his jazz tone, that all men (and women) are still created equal and to not be fooled by the fraudulent talk of the rule makers. It’s not all happy in jazz-land (racism is not over – neither is sexism or homophobia) and will not be so until every man and woman is considered fully human; until the fraud makers stop saying things like, “separate but equal, hey, we’re just trying to be fair”; until every voice, small and large, proper and unorthodox, is listened to.
by Langston Hughes
Good morning, daddy!
Ain’t you heard
The boogie-woogie rumble
Of a dream deferred?
You’ll hear their feet
Beating out and beating out a –
It’s a happy beat?
Listen to it closely:
Ain’t you heard
like a –
What did I say?
Take it away!