Friday, April 4, 2008

It was forty years ago today . . .

. . . that Dr. King was murdered in Memphis. I'm old enough to remember hearing it on the news, and to remember that there was talk of closing school the next day (I grew up in Houston, Texas). It's easy, I think, to let yourself believe that our current times are hopeless - we're poised on the brink of an economic catastrophe, our Constitution has been all but gutted, we're embroiled in a pointless war, an American city still lies in ruins, and the man responsible for all of it will no doubt get off scot-free. But what hope did Dr. King have at Selma or Montgomery or Birmingham? Only the hope that things can change for the better - I have no illusions about the prospects, or the poverty, of many African-Americans, or the seemingly immortal racism of many Americans, but forty years ago, the presidential candidacy of Barack Obama would have been impossible. That much, at least, has changed. Dr. King gave his life for the belief that America could live up to its ideals. Can we let him down now?

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