It is shortly after 7:30 in the morning and most everyone is still asleep in our house. I pause to note that today is the day set aside nationally to remember, honor, and reflect upon the legacy of Dr. King. In a few hours our Traces of the Trade team will host a panel discussion nearby that will feature Representative John Conyers, Jr., the man who introduced legislation a few days after King’s assassination for a commemorative holiday. Conyers and Rep. Shirley Chisolm re-introduced the bill each legislative session for 15 years before the effort succeeded.
The focus of our panel today will address other political and societal actions that can be taken to further undo the systemic inequity along racial lines that continues to plague the United States today. Among other things, Rep. Conyers will discuss the legislation he has been introducing every session since 1989: H.R. 40, which would, according to GovTrack.US, acknowledge the fundamental injustice, cruelty, brutality, and inhumanity of slavery in the United States and the 13 American colonies between 1619 and 1865 and to establish a commission to examine the institution of slavery, subsequently de jure and de facto racial and economic discrimination against African-Americans, and the impact of these forces on living African-Americans, to make recommendations to the Congress on appropriate remedies, and for other purposes.
Take this moment, won’t you? and please join me in reading to yourself Dr. King’s I Have a Dream speech which included these powerful words:
I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”
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.
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.
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.
I have a dream today.