“Dr. King says ‘We Need Urban Change Now as A Hometown Response to Sticky Situations’”


Trivia: Who prompted Dr. King on his ‘I Have a Dream’ refrain at the March on Washington? (Answer below)

Today we’re at a critical moment in history. On one side of the spectrum we’ll celebrate the anniversary of Dr. King’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech. It was given on August 28th 1963 during the “March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.” On another side we find unacceptable situations in some American cities.

It’s likely that Dr. King surveyed the social landscape in the weeks leading up to that moment. Many of his observations were probably referenced in the speech given 51 years ago. In our current media world he’d probably be invited to do interviews leading up to the historic event. Can you see him on cable news?

Let’s imagine the headline in the morning paper before the rally. It might say “Dr. King tells Philly Radio Station ‘We Need Urban Change Now as a Hometown Response to Sticky Situations.’” Maybe that would be a clue for his approach to the issues facing America’s political leaders and citizens coast to coast.

If here today, he might look back to his speech in 1963 and ask “How is it that the unemployment rate for blacks is still twice that of whites 51 years later?” He might continue by asking “Why is high school student-readiness for college low across many demographic groups but even lower for minorities?”

How we answer the questions will determine the direction of our actions. A political slant might result in a legislative response. But a purposeful slant will cause us to ask more probing questions. Are our challenges a White America problem, a Black America problem or a United States of America problem?

So, we’ll avoid a ‘chicken and egg’ debate about who has to change first. Let’s just say that there’re some things Black America needs to do to change. We can’t be happy about leading the pack in entertainment and sports while making excuses for unchecked behavior, poor student performance or social stigma.

It’s much harder to change other people than to change oneself.  In changing oneself it opens the door for encouraging change in others. So let’s just say there’re some things White America needs to do to change. They can’t be happy with keeping the status-quo when truth speaks louder than deception.

Dr. King might also refer to our ‘We the People’ representative government. That model exists through Congress and State Legislatures. Today we see blustering and filibustering. So let’s just say there’re some things Hometown America needs to do to change towards a ‘We the People’ branch of community.

The Founding Fathers drafted documents that capture our nation’s ideals. The process was sometimes contentious and fractious. But they came together on the purposeful notion of “a more perfect union.” That’s why there’re some things we all need to do for the United States of America to forge ahead.

Footnote: There’re some things that White America, Black America and Hometown America need to do for the United States of America to change so that the American Dream is possible for all.

Answer: Mahalia Jackson