Monday, January 19, 2009

Eye to Eye Across an Interval of Forty-Five Years.

On August 28th, 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr. gave, what has become known as his I have a dream Speech. The event was the March on Washington for Jobs & Freedom. There was disagreement among the organizers over the purpose of the march...ranging from a show of support for Civil Rights legislation that the Kennedy Administration was considering to contempt for the Administration for what some considered glacial and grudging movement at best.

If you listen to the early parts of the speech, it centers on the dignity of common men and the withholding of that dignity. In the midst of the speech, King says:

In a sense we've come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the "unalienable Rights" of "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked "insufficient funds."

This, is the core of what he came to say, and it's a shame that it's forgotten in it's stirring aftermath.

The "I have a dream" portion which ends the speech, and for which it is remembered, was an afterthought. It was part of his standard stump at the time, and witnesses on the stage, say that he turned his papers face-down on the lectern as he began this portion.

All of the speeches that day were given from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, facing across the Reflecting Pool, past the Washington Monument, and finally aimed at the Capitol Building, where they hoped their words would be heard.

Until 1980, Presidents were inaugurated on the East Side of the Capitol Bldg. Ronald Reagan, no slouch when it came to symbolism, decided it would be more appropriate for Presidents to be inaugurated on the West Side...facing the nation, as it were. By all accounts, Reagan had a clear mandate going into office, with over 50% of the popular vote. Photos of his 1981 inauguration looking over his shoulder at the crowd show a respectable turnout...reaching all the way across the street to the Capitol Hill Reflecting Pool. Take a good look and see how conveniently they were able to park those six or seven tour buses on The Mall.

Tomorrow, they are estimating 3 million people showing up for Obama's Inauguration. I, for one, think they're underestimating that number. The talk is that the crowds may reach all the way from the Western Steps of the Capitol Building all the way past The Mall, past the Washington Monument, past the Reflecting Pool, and up to the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. So by virtue of Ronald Reagan moving the inauguration from one side of the Capitol to the other, Barack Obama will be looking out over a sea of people tomorrow...eye to eye with Martin Luther King on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, albeit with an interval of forty-five years.

Those years seem so interminably long and at the same time, gone in an instant.


Jim Wright said...

Very well said, Nathan, very well indeed.

Anonymous said...

I've stumbled (appropriately enough with the cane I'm using after knee surgery 2 weeks ago) onto another world of Nathan - how is it I've missed out on this blog for so long? And how is it possible 25k people have visited since Jan 13 - have you rigged the ticker with your technical acumen?

Now I know why you prefer email to phones, spreads the message to the masses so to speak.

Gosh, I'm sorry I didn't send you a card but worried it'd get lost in the mail from Bangkok and you'd be home (still not eating of course) before it arrived to Methodist Hospital.

Balloons, flowers, cards, books - maybe you need a wish list for those showing support in your moment of...well, you said it, idiocy. What were you thinking?

Get well soon, stop drinking and smoking, perhaps Tom Cruise can advise you on changing you life and you too can join a bigger clan than you've heretofore imagined being a part of. May the force be with you...


Anonymous said...

Any actual pursuit of sc1ent0logy (trying to avoid search engines) would probably disqualify you from any current or future UCF leadership positions. ;)

On the inauguration front - well said. I wish I could be in DC - it looks like it's gonna be a heck of a street party.

Nathan said...

Two things:

Seth's my brother and I'd guess any suggestions of me going into Tom Cruise's Light are firmly tongue in cheek. And he's allowed to give me as much shit as he likes (he's been mostly on a break from that since about 1975 or so).

Also Jeri, This is the freakin' UCF! We don't need to follow any slacker like L.Ron. We can come up with our own whack-job religion at the drop of a hat.

Nathan said...

Oh, and Seth,

Lest you think this blog has huge traffic, that's 25,000 visits since last January...not this one.

Jim Wright said...

Seth, it's just the same guy, 25,000 times.

Also, when did Nathan get a brother?

Nathan said...


I've made no secret of it...I've got 4 brothers and 3 sisters. Most of them are willing to be seen with me.


Anonymous said...

"...I've got 4 brothers and 3 sisters."

Wait. What? You're Catholic?


Anonymous said...

I think he's LDS. Didn't know they had a presence in NYC.

Random Michelle K said...

I thought it was just Nathan hitting refresh and commenting under multiple pseudonyms.

And Nathan, just because you're a zombie doesn't mean you have to stoop to science(less)ology.

Tania said...

I like Seth, he used the phrase "technical acumen" in regard to Nathan. That's FUNNY!

Janiece said...

Any actual pursuit of sc1ent0logy (trying to avoid search engines) would probably disqualify you from any current or future UCF leadership positions. ;)

You got that right, sister.

Nathan, I'm preying you stay away from ole Tom.