I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.
Dr. King spoke 44 years ago right here in DC and his words and actions led America to trample the idea that melanin mattered. And now, as always in our 230+ years of existence, America stands as the freest country ever to exist on Earth. The reactionaries in Old Europe, who love to lecture us, could not even contemplate electing a black man to lead them. They can only bask in the glow of the one nation that takes lofty ideals and makes them reality.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
Only in America can all races and religions exist in harmony. Only in America can atheists petition their government to ignore the word "Creator" in the very document that began our journey, and Muslims put signs on buses claiming the Christian God as their own, and Jews stand proud amidst a cacophony of hate knowing that if it turns to violence the police will stand with them. We have achieved a society where all can be heard but no one group can impose it's beliefs on the rest. In Dr. King's time there were real grievances that needed to be addressed.
There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?" We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the negro's basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their self-hood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating: "For Whites Only." We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until "justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream."¹
Then satisfaction is at hand. There can be no question that a country where a black man can campaign to cheers in every corner of this land and win a free election running against a white war hero has progressed beyond racialism.
I have a dream that my four little 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.
Amen to that, and for most of us that is the way we live.
Tomorrow we will inaugurate a black man as President of the United States of America and that is a wonderful thing. Once again we lead the world in showing that our free society values the person, not the skin tone. Barack Obama was judged by the content of his character not the color of his skin, and his two children are living the life Dr. King hoped for his own. It is now incumbent on the new President to move America past racialism and to call on the community that voted overwhelmingly for him to set aside the timeworn excuses for failure of blacks to achieve at the same rates as other groups. It is time for him to call for the elimination of racial characterizations that are no longer helpful or even accurate. He raised his voice during the campaign to call for black fathers to accept the responsibilities that bringing a child into this world create. He needs to stand firm with Bill Cosby in shaming those who abandon their offspring to "Baby's Mommas".
America is a land where there are no impediments to success imposed by this country or it's people. Poverty and prison are the result when babies are made and then left without role models to emulate. President Obama has reached the highest role we have; he should use his bully pulpit to shine the light on those who shirk the greatest responsibility we have.
Dr. King's dream has been realized and now it is time for us to live in a truly color-blind society. We can now sing as he wished.
And when this happens, when we allow 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!