The dream, realized finally

Published 10:02 pm Friday, January 16, 2009

It will hardly have escaped the notice of most Americans that there’s something extra special about this year’s celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Twenty-four hours after America celebrates the birthday of the man who was arguably its most important civil rights pioneer, the nation will watch as its first African-American president takes the oath of office.

When the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech, which culminated the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, African-Americans were widely considered second-class citizens, literally relegated to the back of the bus, drinking from separate water fountains and unable to get many good jobs.

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It’s likely that the thought of an African-American someday holding the most powerful job on earth was far from Dr. King’s mind. At the time, he was concerned more with ensuring that all children had equal access to education and securing the position of African-Americans as full citizens of this nation, with all of the rights and responsibilities that position would bring.

On Tuesday, many Americans who watched that great speech will see Barack Obama raise his right hand and swear to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States of America as its president.

Truly, we have come a long way as a nation.