Reclaiming Dr. King’s Dream

Published 9:06 pm Monday, June 5, 2017

By Joseph L. Bass

Today Americans are the most inventive, creative, and wealth people in the history of the world. We also have the most freedom to chart our individual lives.

During my long lifetime, incredible technological progress has been made that has increased productivity, wealth, communication capabilities, medical care and so on.


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For example, my parents’ first telephone was a wooden box that hung on the wall. It was necessary to crank a handle to charge it and alert the operator you wanted to make a call. Today we carry small objects that are telephones but are also computers that perform tasks beyond my parents’ imagination.

Despite that kind of progress, anyone current with the news knows we have a variety of social issues that have improved in some ways but have worsened in others.

On Aug. 28, 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech at the Lincoln Memorial, in Washington D.C. In, it he said, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

Since the 1950s, Americans have witnessed the ebb and flow of tidal change regarding social issues. Progress has been made with some issues. But progress has receded in other areas, particularly during recent years.

Regarding civil rights, most advancement has been achieved through government actions, such as U.S. Supreme Court decisions and enactment and enforcement of laws dealing with the 14th and 15th Amendments to our Constitution.

But, during this same period, new challenges have developed, resulting in the American people becoming seriously conflicted, particularly regarding racial issues. It is clear there are limits to what can be achieved through government laws and enforcement. Many believe government actions are the cause of the problems we face today.

The limits of government efforts can be seen. Schools were legally forced to be integrated decades ago, but people cannot be forced to integrate churches or where they choose to live. Churches and neighborhoods continue to be segregated.

Children have to be bussed to achieve some semblance of “rainbow” schools. The music played by radio stations is strictly segregated. There is no such thing as “integrated” music.

In many ways, Americans seem to have lost their way in terms of striving toward achieving Dr. King’s dream. People are so focused on short-term conflicted issues, we have lost sight our objective. Many espouse Dr. King’s dream but generally ignore it in their daily lives.

How people think and act are not things government can change. How can we refocus on achieving the dream?

Is it possible to gather together a “rainbow” group of people to develop a common understanding of what Suffolk will be like when the dream is achieved? Is it possible for them to define what is “good” and “bad” character? Is it possible to identify personal, individual actions, outside of government, that will result in progress toward achieving Dr. King’s dream?

Joseph L. Bass is the executive director of ABetterSociety.Info Inc., a nonprofit organization in Hobson. Email him at