The great man we honored again last week had a dream. It was of a nation where people are “judged not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”
Let’s measure our progress on the 53-year-old dream of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
In some areas, our progress has been impressive. It’s no longer socially acceptable to express racism. There will always be a few misanthropes of various colors, I suppose, but today they mostly hide their racism.
And it’s not just our social constructs that have become more protective but also our laws. It is now illegal to discriminate on the basis of race in hotels, restaurants, housing or employment. The days of Bull Connor and George Wallace barring blacks from public buildings are gone forever.
Freed of those societal and legal shackles, blacks have ascended to the highest levels of government, medicine, law, education, science and business. We’ve elected black mayors in dozens of big cities. A black neurosurgeon is running (as a Republican!) for president.
And he wouldn’t be the first black president. In a moment I thought I would never live to see, we elected a black president seven years ago. His election spoke to the greatness of the nation and its people (can you imagine this happening in Japan or France?), the progress of blacks within it and his own personal achievement as a black man.
But not all is good. Continue reading