Lincoln to King: the next Great Emancipator

A river of emotion swells in me as a little-girl version of my voice overflows, singing with the marchers who are on their way to the Lincoln Memorial for a celebration of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation that freed the slaves, and “the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

We shall overcome
We shall overcome
We shall overcome some day
Deep in my heart
I do believe
We shall overcome some day

I long to believe, deep in my heart, that we will overcome so we can all have freedom.

via Martin Luther King ‘I Have a Dream’ speech: Re-live his famous speech – World Story.
Transcript

As I watched this video today, I hung on to every word, recognizing that my understanding and attachment to this speech are deeper than ever.

Sure, “Whites Only” paper signs are gone from water fountains, buses and schools. Sure, 50 years ago, Dr. King received the Nobel Peace Prize. Sure, 50 years ago, the U.S. Civil Rights Act outlawed many forms of discrimination. Sure, Blacks can vote. Sure, the US now has a Black president. But how crippled is he, like many other people, by “the manacles of segregation” and “chains of discrimination” that persist? How much does he represent the end of “the long night of captivity” that people have endured? Where do invisible “Whites Only” signs still exist? What does “freedom” mean today for people who are African American, Native American, Latino, Asian, Muslim, Jewish, women, gay, sick, disabled, homeless, hungry, orphaned, aged, jailed…?

As President Obama confirmed, economic disparity is a real issue, not just an illusion.


via President Obama Marks the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington | The White House.
Transcript.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Martin Luther King, Jr., by Betsy Graves Reyneau [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
What is, or would be, the fate today for a Great Emancipator like Dr. King, and a march for freedom like the one in 1963? Dr. King came 100 years after President Lincoln and the Emancipation Proclamation. 100 years later, will someone else hold their title? Who will move our world forward to provide more fair shots for the many, instead of more privileges for the few?

President Abraham Lincoln, 1865
Abraham Lincoln, by Alexander Gardner, 1865 [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
When President Lincoln promoted the Emancipation Proclamation, he reminded people that the U.S. Declaration of Independence “gave hope [for liberty] to the world for all time…that in due time the weights should be lifted from all men, and that all should have an equal chance.”

Let’s remember President Lincoln’s message, as we listen to or read Dr. King’s speech again, and reach for a deeper understanding and appreciation of emancipators. Then, let’s renew our personal commitment to freedom for all.

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10 thoughts on “Lincoln to King: the next Great Emancipator

  1. Invisible “whites only” signs are probably Glaring at us in technicolor and surround sound if we just tune into their frequency. I like this, Grace. I like it a lot. I am wondering why it never showed up in my Reader though. I actually had to come over to your blog directly to see if I’d been missing work from you, and sure enough I had. That….I do NOT like.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am very amused by your frequenting my blog which is so serious, and my frequenting your blog which is so laid back and humorous. I’m glad we have common ground to connect. Thanks for stopping by for a visit.

      I wonder what happened to your notices about my postings. According to my stats, you’ve been following me for a month. Speaking of Reader glitches, WordPress notified me of your comment before it notified me that this post went live. Hmmmmm were you here waiting to midwife it? Actually, I prefer to think of you as a doula who sticks around between births.

      Interesting to consider “whites only” signs in technicolor since I’m used to seeing them in 60s black and white movies, no pun intended of course. Likewise in surround sound compared with 60s mono. I hope you will come back and report on any sights and sounds that you discover.

      Like

  2. “What does “freedom” mean today for people who are African American, Native American, Latino, Asian, Muslim, Jewish, women, gay, sick, disabled, homeless, hungry, orphaned, aged, jailed…?”

    This! So much this!

    Like

  3. That was beautiful and so well said. Also, your comments line, “Weave the fabric of this blog with your thoughts” is pure genius. I’m so jealous I didn’t think of something that clever and cool!

    Like

  4. Hi Grace, a wonderful post, as always. I don’t really know how I missed it when you first posted it, but I did.

    Our “Whites only” signs in South Africa only went down in the late eighties, I was in my teens. I remember the last march that demanded the desegregation of beaches in 1989, I think. But the invisible whites only signs are still up in many places.

    I live in an area that was considered very “white” in the late eighties. The move towards having the area open to everyone is of course very dependent on people actually taking the step to go and live there. I used to do gym in the mornings, 4:30am start, and let me tell you, this is one of those areas where bright Neon lights are still up on the activity being a “whites only” activity.

    There are so many instances when people would rather wait for another exercise machine rather than use the one you just finished using. You cannot report that anywhere, so you “ignore it” and move on. On another day you realize that a bustling free weights area suddenly becomes deserted just a few moments after you picked up your first weights.

    In a gym environment where the only speckle of colour is you, “ignoring it” becomes an act of defiance, but then again, gym is supposed to be a social experience, not a battlefield. Pity the underwent massive reconstruction for a period of time and I lost my appetite for gym during that period. I still wonder though how many other areas of life still have these invisible “whites only” signs!

    Like

    1. Syd, I am so glad that you tripped over this post and stumbled in. I am always glad when you stop by.

      Thank you for sharing a report on the status of “whites only” signs in South Africa. Your story about the gym makes me feel sad for you, considering how much your training for running means to you. I also feel sorry for the people who missed the opportunity to get to know you.

      I am hearing debates about the rights of business owners to refuse services to certain populations or for certain events. The hottest target seems to be gay people, especially regarding same-sex weddings, but other populations and situations are included in the heated discussions. I like to think that a business owner who refuses services to a certain population will lose business in the long run. I hate to imagine that the businesses in a town can decide to refuse services to a certain population, thus drive them out. But then again, as you know, “whites only” signs remain, whether they are legal or not, just like whether they are visible or not.

      You wrote, “The move towards having the area open to everyone is of course very dependent on people actually taking the step to go and live there.” As long as the invisible signs remain, only brave people like you will go and live there. Thank you for doing your part for freedom. Please remember that you are there for freedom, not defiance.

      Peace be with you.

      Like

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