My column this week will jump off from reflections on MLK day, but I wanted to write a blog post pointing to Matt Miller’s and Thomas Schnaubelt’s lovely op-ed that appeared yesterday on The Daily’s website building off of the idea of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Matt and Thomas highlighted that King stood not only for racial justice, but also for “human rights, economic uplift, civil rights, …international peace, and spiritual freedom.” The holiday is to remember someone who saw the broad implications of our ideals, who called on us to realize those ideals in all their forms.
In this sense the “I Have a Dream” speech is not only a schooling in the Civil Rights Movement but also in the constant conflict between the ideals we all embrace and the practices we disagree on. Our ideals and practices are in constant dialogue. Healthcare, immigration, war, education, persisting racial injustice in America—King calls on us to think about what policies on such issues will best “let freedom ring”.
Martin Luther King – I Have A Dream Speech – August 28, 1963
King was inspiring, but not perfect. In a sense, he marks a tremendous step in a movement that transcends any single human being. We never achieve perfection. Progress extends beyond any person, any practice, any single dream. Revisiting inspirational moments in history is not just about recognizing the shoulders our improved society stands on (though we owe them at least that sign of gratitude); it is also about reexamining and extending the implications of our ideals.