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Copyright 2013 Walter Harris Gavin

Two Score & Ten

Fifty years ago I was a fifteen year old recovering from a congenital injury that would ruin my hopes of one day being a professional baseball, basketball, or football player. I had a dream to paraphrase Martin Luther King, Jr,'s speech that I listened to with rapt attention. I was watching on TV with a group of my homeboys marveling at all the people to which King spoke. I don't recall ever seeing that many folks, particularly back folks, in any one place before.

I knew that this event, The March on Washington, was something special. And King was speaking truth. We had been witness to bombings, beatings, burnings and all manner of mayhem perpetrated by white authority against black bodies. King was saying to all who would listen that white America, the powers that be, had tried for countless generations to break "the Negro's" body, but could not and would not break his spirit. He was saying this in the shadow of The Great Emancipator, Washington, DC, the Nation's Capital that less we forget was below the Mason Dixon Line. DC is a southern city.

And while state sanctioned American Apartheid was overt below that line in the States of the Old Confederacy, racism was very much alive and well in the East, North, Mid-West, Southwest, from "sea to shining sea."  And although "do not enter" color coded signs of separation are gone in 2013, racial profiling, voter ID, redistricting, school choice, "don't tread on me" Tea Parties, "birtherism" are all manifestations of that "white privilege" mind-set which has under-girded this Republic since before its founding. 

So King's Dream still has resonance and currency. Just look at the immigration debate, the wage gap between workers and corporate owners, climate change deniers, environmental injustice, marriage inequality the list goes on. King's Dream while specific  to Civil Rights at that time he was speaking also of larger cultural and human rights issues and divides that remain extant today.

Now, unlike then there seems to be "no fierce urgency of now." Now like then "marches" just won't cut it. As my mother was very fond of saying, "There's no rest for the wicked...and the righteous don't need it."