“I have a dream, today…”

Can’t you just hear Dr. King saying this? As I watched the over quarter-a- million Americans in the audience on August 28, 1963, I couldn’t help but wish that I was one of those 5-year-olds sitting on my daddy’s shoulders, not really knowing what was going on; but knowing that it was something special.  Dr. King talked about the difficult realities of Black Americans, as he envisioned his “dream” for all Americans. He unapologetically and poignantly acknowledged that racism was still a harsh reality for Americans of color and offered that our country was not living up to its creed of equality. Beautiful ideas, eloquent words make up  The Emancipation Proclamation, yet the Negro was (and is) not free. Not free in the real sense of the word; only free enough to voice dissent; but not free enough for that voice to matter.

Freedom continues to be our plea. It continues to be our hope. And as my friends and I sang songs of patriotism, as we waited for the second swearing-in of President Barak Obama, we knew in our hearts that the words of Francis Scott Key were written at a time when our ancestors were not considered “really” human.  We sang, “I like it here” (my favorite) with such pride, knowing that the wrong kind of protest could cost us our lives. As I sang, I wonder why I was feeling such pride, awe, even patriotism. It seemed like such a contradiction to me, but I sang nonetheless. I kept singing because I too I have a hopeful dream that one day someone in my ancestry will be able to sing these songs without duplicity, without feeling like a house nigga–someone who “love the massah more than they self.” My descendants will know that I and those before me had every right to sing these songs; because, we help build this great country. My dream is that by that time, the branches of my family tree will experience the fullness of what it means to be an American without footnotes. This is my dream, today.


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