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WASHINGTON DC 28 Aug 2013 “I have a dream” speech 50 years ago
On 28 Aug 1963, civil rights campaigner and Baptist pastor Martin Luther King stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and made a speec

August 28, 2013 - NULL

WASHINGTON DC 28 Aug 2013 "I have a dream" speech 50 years ago
On 28 Aug 1963, civil rights campaigner and Baptist pastor Martin Luther King stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and made a speech widely recognized as a masterpiece of rhetoric . Decades later, the words are easily recognizable. The speech for some 250,000 supporters at the March on Washington outlined his dream for racial equality. Today's black leaders will have words to say on the anniversary about whether today's African Americans are living King's dream. King, who was assassinated in 1968, missed out on seeing an

WASHINGTON DC 28 Aug 2013 "I have a dream" speech 50 years ago
On 28 Aug 1963, civil rights campaigner and Baptist pastor Martin Luther King stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and made a speech widely recognized as a masterpiece of rhetoric . Decades later, the words are easily recognizable. The speech for some 250,000 supporters at the March on Washington outlined his dream for racial equality. Today's black leaders will have words to say on the anniversary about whether today's African Americans are living King's dream. King, who was assassinated in 1968, missed out on seeing an African American, Barak Obama, elected to the highest office in the land 45 years after the speech.

King led many of the most notable events in the non-violent black protest movement of the 1950s, during which time he was arrested up to 20 times, his home was bombed and he was subjected to personal abuse. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. He conferred with President John F. Kennedy, campaigned for President Lyndon B. Johnson and lived long enough to see the Supreme Court landmark rulings that ended the legality of segregation. He was assassinated on the evening of 4 Apr 1968, while standing on the balcony of his motel room in Memphis, Tennessee, where he was to lead a protest march in sympathy with striking garbage workers of that city.

It is inevitable that any point-by-point assessment of 50 years of achievement for African Americans by King's successors of today will look at how much or how little the country's first black president has done for them. The administration is likely to argue, if faulted for doing too little, that the harsh economic times have been cruel to all the country's people. The rebuttal will be that the bad times have been disproportionately harsh for the black population.

Bloomberg reported in September that millions of African-Americans tenuous hold on prosperity has slipped since President Barack Obama reached the White House at the start of 2009. The recession and anemic recovery, while painful for most Americans, according to the news service, have been especially punishing for blacks, stripping jobs, homes and wealth from people who have historically lagged. It adds that today's 14.1 percent black unemployment rate is almost twice the 7.4 percent white rate, and the racial gap -- after narrowing from 2005 to 2009 -- has widened since the recession's Jun 2009 end.

Obama is also faulted for tough new voter-identification laws that are likely to shrink African-American turnout at the polls from its 2008 peak of 65 per cent when the country votes to give him a second term - or not - in Nov 2012. (WRITTEN SEP 2012)

RELATED READING:

First Black President Can't Help Blacks Stem Wealth Drop (Bloomberg 5 Sep 2012)
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-09-05/first-black-president-can-t-help-blacks-stem-wealth-drop.html

Will African-American Voters Show Up for Barack Obama? (Daily Beast 7 Sep 2012)
http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/09/07/will-african-american-voters-show-up-for-barack-obama.html

"I have a dream" speech (MLK speech reprinted in Chicago Tribune)
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/sns-mlk-ihaveadream,0,36081.story

MLK Nobel Peace Prize biography
http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/laureates/1964/king-bio.html

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Date written/update: 2013-08-28