The Lessons of Yesterday are the Promises of Tomorrow

In his address Wednesday at the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, Obama made it clear that the push for equality is not over. Within five decades, we have come a great distance, not only for African-Americans, but for all types of people – Asians, Hispanics, LGBT, and Americans with disabilities. He ended his address with a message, as he usually does. This was a message of promise and hope, a rallying cry to continue our hard work because we still have a long way to go.

At the end of his speech Obama said the most poignant of his messages: “And that’s the lesson of our past, that’s the promise of tomorrow, that in the face of impossible odds, people who love their country can change it.” That is what we are seeing more today than in recent years.

The American people are upset. Some are upset over the all too apparent gaps in the country’s wealth distribution. Others are upset over our foreign policy decisions. The list goes on and on. But what makes this country so great is exactly what Obama said. The citizens who love this country can change it. It has happened before and history tends to repeat itself.

The best commemoration President Obama could have given to Martin Luther King Jr. was a push for the future, an undeniable hope that there is better still yet to come. That is what MLK Jr. did. He had a dream that he shared on the National Mall fifty years ago. King hoped for a better life for his children, for the sons and daughters of his countrymen. Is there any difference between what King dreamt and what Obama hopes for?

If you take anything away from Obama’s speech it is that our future can be bright. It can be bright because we can make it that way. Our country was founded on the premise that it would be ruled by the people through democratic processes. Through those means we have been able to make mistakes and fix them. We have been able to right the wrongs of history and create better possibilities for the future. Obama’s promise now, is not one of hope; in fact, it is not a promise. He provides us simple advice. Dream as Martin Luther King Jr. did. Dream and act upon those dreams, fight for them. Work not towards simply righting the wrongs of the past but work towards the betterment of our future.


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