Making the dream a reality

The monument will be a constant reminder that no matter how far our nation has come from the days of Jim Crow segregation, and before that, chattel slavery, no matter its current progress in regard to racial equality and the inclusion of all of its citizens in the American Dream – not the least of which is the election of the first African American as president of the United States, it will always have further to go, more “promissory notes to cash,” more mountaintops to climb in its eternal pursuit of becoming “a more perfect union.” This befits confident insight this Nobel Peace Prize Laureate shared at the conclusion of the Selma to Montgomery march: “the arc of the universe is long but it bends towards justice.”

All Americans should take enormous pride in the fact the citizen it will memorialize this week is also one of world history's most decisive disciples of nonviolence as a method of struggle, governance, and human interaction.  As we look out on a world riven with war, civil conflict, and terrorism, we should appreciate all the more that movements for racial equality, civil rights, and social justice in the 1960s and ever since have largely followed Dr. King’s vision of peaceful protest, creative tension, and nonviolent direct action. 

And we should applaud the growing number of movements across the globe that embrace with great effectiveness Dr. King’s principles of nonviolence, proving that Martin Luther King, Jr., a man of his times, is an inspiration for all times.

A personal note: I will visit the King Memorial with my family.  I will think of my father and late mother, my aunts and uncles who came north from South Carolina to Philadelphia and New York during the Great Black Migration.  I will remember all those young people, all those students, all those common folk, who staged sit-ins, marched, organized, resisted, and persisted in the face of beatings, arrests, and death.  I will think of my colleague, Rep. John Lewis, who was badly beaten by state troopers on Edmund Pettis Bridge outside of Selma, Alabama in March of 1965.  I will say a word of appreciation for other members of Congress who also marched with Dr. King.  I will marvel at the journey of a 26 year old preacher, scholar, and theologian, who put his education, intellect, and energy at the service of his people and country, who emerged from the Montgomery Boycott as a national leader, who was molded in the cauldron of Birmingham, who spoke to us and for us at the Lincoln Memorial, who was further steeled in Selma, and who went to the mountaintop in Memphis.

This op-ed was inadvertently attributed incorrectly to Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y). We apologize for the error. 


More from The Hill:
♦ Rep. Hastings: The struggle continues for King's dream
♦ Rep. Rangel: The dream lives on
♦ Rep. Clay: A memorial is not enough
♦ Rep. Clarke: Continuing to build the dream
♦ Rep. Conyers: Dr. King's dream of jobs, justice and peace
♦ Rep. Carson: A renewed call to positive action
♦ Rep. Bishop: Reflections on Dr. King's memorial
♦ Austin: Remembering the March for Jobs and Freedom