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WEB EXCLUSIVE: Carrying the dream

Washington Journal: the Inauguration

Posted: January 18, 2009 4:48 p.m.
Updated: January 18, 2009 7:43 p.m.

Editor's note: Tenth in an exclusive series as Signal Staff Writer Brian Charles covers the inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama in Washington, D.C.

Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream was deferred when a bullet killed him on a Memphis, Tenn., motel balcony in April 1968.

But the dream didn't die. It only wilted around the edges.

King's dream was the same as those of Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and George Washington.

Those men dreamed of building a more perfect union.

Abraham Lincoln sharpened the dream when he declared that a house divided cannot stand.

The dream lives, and on Tuesday - when Barack Obama takes the oath of office - King's dream will bloom once again.

The American public wants to revitalize the dream.

More than 63 million Americans voted to create a more perfect union that recognizes credentials over race.

More than 63 million Americans shoveled more dirt on the grave of bigotry and prejudice.

The dream barely breathed since King was killed in 1968.

Watergate, Iran-Contra, Hurricane Katrina and $350 billion bailout with little oversight - these are less than perfect reminders of our tendency toward complacency.

Our democracy's complacency lives in the blighted buildings that line inner-city streets across our country.

Our democracy's complacency lives in educational inequality, where a substandard education is business as usual for many inner-city and rural poor children.

On the eve of the inauguration, America waits to see if Obama, the man charged with carrying the dream, will nurture it or allow the dream to continue to wilt.

Tuesday he will take the oath of office and will take on the charge of carrying the dream on his shoulders.
King's dream was equality. His dream was a more perfect union and reuniting the house divided.

There is no equality when Americans live in substandard homes. There is no equality without a decent education.

Without equality, the house that is America will stay divided.

That dream will wilt again if those neighborhoods are allowed to rot. The dream will die if the quality of a child's education depends on his or her ZIP code.

King's dream is lofty. The goal is a heavy burden to bear. But the dream, and our relentless pursuit of it, makes America the best country in the world. We owe it to ourselves to never defer the dream, to never let it die.

Obama owes it to his country to bear the burden of carrying the dream.


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