Today, almost half a century after Martin Luther King, Jr. led the historic March on Washington for equality, tens of thousands came to the National Mall in Washington, D.C. for the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Dedication.
The memorial to Dr. King has been open since August, but the dedication was postponed due to Hurricane Irene. As President Obama said, though delayed, "this is a day that would not be denied."President Obama, connected by the First Family, toured the memorial and then spoke at the dedication ceremony in honor of Dr. King's work to make his dream a reality for all. During his speech, President Obama reminded us that the progress towards Dr. King's vision has not come easily and there is still more to do to expand chance and make our nation more just:
Our work is not done. And so on this day, in which we celebrate a man and a association that did so much for this country, let us draw force from those earlier struggles. First and foremost, let us remember that change has never been quick. Change has never been simple, or without controversy. Change depends on persistence. Change requires determination. It took a full decade before the moral direction of Brown v. Board of Education was translated into the enforcement measures of the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act, but those 10 long years did not lead Dr. King to give up. He kept on pushing, he kept on speaking, he kept on marching until change finally came.
And then when, even after the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act passed, African Americans still originate themselves trapped in pockets of poverty across the country, Dr. King didn’t say those laws were a failure; he didn’t say this is too hard; he didn’t say, let’s settle for what we got and go home. Instead he said, let’s take those victories and broaden our mission to attain not just civil and political equality but also economic justice; let’s fight for a living wage and better schools and jobs for all who are eager to work. In other words, when met with hardship, when confronting disappointment, Dr. King refused to recognize what he called the “isness” of today. He kept pushing towards the “oughtness” of tomorrow.