Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Dream at Fifty: Looking Back, Marching On

I lived in Washington, D.C. for a couple of years when I was a kid - unfortunately, not at the time of the March on Washington. I used to wish that I could have been a part of the crowd, one of the children whose lives were informed by the remarkable event that took place on that day, fifty years ago.

Thinking it over, I realize that I was.

I am a progressive, nonviolent social activist, and I have been since childhood - the time of my life when I realized that there was such a thing as irrational hatred and wild-eyed bigotry in this world. Before I had two numbers in my age, I decided that would not be the path I would take.
"I have decided to stick to love...Hate is too great a burden to bear."
Last October, for the first time since I was a kid, I visited the city with my sister. I stood on the spot where the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr., made his speech, and heard his words ringing in my memory.
"No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream."

I looked across the Reflecting Pool and imagined the upturned faces, witnesses and participants in one of the greatest moments in American history. Many on that day, there in person or listening on televisions and radios across the land, took the words to heart, If those words have faded in time, it is now time to let them ring out again.
"I say to you today, my friends, though, even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream."

I crossed the street and made my way over to the Tidal Basin. I stood for a moment as I saw the symbolic mountain of despair rising up before me, but then I walked through and stood before the stone of hope.

For a fleeting moment, I felt like Dr. King was really there, looming above me, continuing his call for peace, justice, jobs and freedom.

In a way, I guess he is
I'm a graduate of one of this country's finest universities. As a member of the Directors Guild of America, I've worked with celebrated actors, directors and screenwriters. I have traveled the country and the world, marveling at the wonders of our diverse human experience.

Fifty years ago, my life would have been almost unimaginable, but it turned into a Dream come true.

But more important than that, I have tried to live my life working for social justice. I have tried to live for service. I have tried to be an advocate for the disenfranchised, the marginalized, the ignored, the misunderstood and the despised. I have tried to focus on the content of a person's character, tried to move far beyond tolerance to acceptance and even to love.

There are many, many people who have done far more than I have, sometimes with far fewer rewards. I know that there are many who have given so much and suffered so greatly - including and especially the man whose life and actions we commemorate today.

And while I say "Thank you, Dr. King, and all who fought for justice,"  I know that thanks are not enough. Action is required, then and now. Boldness is a necessity. Love is an essential.

There is much work to do to reach the Dream, for one and for all.

March on!