Unless you spent the last week on a different planet, you knew that there would be two rallies in Washington D.C. today, one to honor Doctor Martin Luther King Jr., the other to restore Honor to America. In the days leading up to today, there was much conjecture about each gathering. Liberals in the media blasted the Glenn Beck-run Restoring Honor rally predicting that it would be a political event filled with hatred, they also predicted the Al Sharpton-led rally would honor the memory of Dr. King. At the end of the day, it was the Glenn Beck rally on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial that Honored Dr. King, while Sharpton’s taught hatred and divisiveness.
On August 28th 1963, Dr. King sent a message to all Americans that combined his great faith, his honor for all people and his hope that together people could create a better America.
I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a desert state, sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
I have a dream that my four 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.
Forty-Seven years later Al Sharpton and a host of speakers stood in front of a group of 3,000 people and declared that Reverend King’s dream was their property alone.
“We will not stand silent as some seek to bamboozle Dr. King’s dream,” said Marc Morial, president of the National Urban League. “We reclaim the dream of Dr. King for the 21st century. We reclaim this dream because we are here to say we must be one nation. We stand on the shoulders of our fathers and mothers, grandfathers and grandmothers.”
Jaime Contreras, president of SEIU-32BJ, said those gathered at the Mall with Beck “represent angry white people and hate-mongering.” He added: “We will not let them stand in the way of the change we voted for!”
Avis Jones DeWeever, executive director of the National Council of Negro Women, drew thunderous roars when she challenged those gathered to stand up for their place. “Don’t let anyone tell you that they have the right to take their country back,” she said. “It’s our country, too. We will reclaim the dream. It was ours from the beginning.”
“They may have the mall, but we have the message. They may have the platform, but we have the dream.” Sharpton and other activists gathered to commemorate the 47th anniversary of MLK’s “I Have a Dream” speech, then joined hands and walked 3 miles to the site of King’s future memorial. “This is our day and we ain’t giving it away,” said Sharpton.
Dr. King did say that one day some of you will own my dream. He never said that some would own his message, and others had to stay away, he said that we should unite in faith and freedom:
This is our hope. This is the faith with which I return to the South. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.
Across town at the Lincoln Memorial, the message was much different
Martin Luther King’s niece Dr. Alveda King, addressed the crowd of 3-500,000 with a plea for unity and prayer “in the public squares of America and in our schools.” She called for national unity by echoing her uncle’s declaring “I have a dream.”
“I have a dream that America will pray and God will forgive us our sins and revive us our land,” King said. “On that day, we will all be able to lift every voice and sing of the love and honor that God desires of all his children.”
Governor Palin’s message was also one of unity:
“We must not fundamentally transform America, as some would want,” Palin said. “We must restore America and restore her honor.”
“Here today, at the crossroads of our history, may this day be the change point,” Palin said. “Look around you. You’re not alone. You are Americans! You have the same steel spine and the moral courage of Washington and Lincoln and Martin Luther King. It is in you. It will sustain you as it sustained them.”
Beck’s message was an inclusive return to God, no matter how you worship. He called on Americans to go back to their churches, back to synagogues, and back to mosques.
“Something beyond imagination is happening. Something that is beyond man is happening,” Beck said” America today begins to turn back to God.”….”Find out what you truly believe. When the storm comes up and your ship is being tossed, you gotta rely on something.”“It happens the same way, it has since the Burning Bush. Moses. Freedom. And then they forget. They wander ’til they remember that God is the answer. He always has been. And then they begin to trust.”
The only mention of politics he made was a call for unity between Democrats, Republicans and Independents.
By far the most most stirring part of his speech was about the power of the individual
“Somewhere in this crowd — I know it. I have been looking for the next George Washington. I can’t find him. I know he is in this crowd. He may be 8 years old, but this is the moment. This is the moment that he dedicates his life, that he sees giants around him. And 25 years from now, he will come not to this stair, but to those stairs. And he can proclaim, ‘I have a new dream.’ That must be our goal: to raise the next great monument.”
Two rallies in Washington DC, one emphasized that the legacy of Martin Luther King was theirs and theirs alone. The other called for people to join together and find their way to God.
Forty-Seven years ago, Dr Martin Luther King Jr. stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and said.
When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”
Today at the Lincoln Memorial, that legacy was honored and renewed.