In an essay marking the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous, “I Have a Dream” speech, former congressman Lt. Col. Allen West illuminated the parts of King’s dream that have gone unfulfilled while targeting the liberal establishment for their complicity in keeping black Americans morally and economically disenfranchised.
Dr. King postulated that, “the Negro is still not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity.”
There can be no doubt that we have highly successful blacks in all walks of life, but when we examine the state of America’s inner cities we must all be appalled; shall I say Detroit?
We have fought to break the chains of physical bondage, but today the chains of economic bondage are even worse. This is not about social justice but about ensuring that the economic opportunities of America can resurrect small business entrepreneurship in the black community. Our economic, tax, and regulatory policies must promote free market growth, investment, innovation and ingenuity to enable self-reliance.
We need to promote the growth of our small community banks in order to provide the capital for those in our inner cities with an idea in their heads and determination in their hearts. The Reagan administration proposed such an initiative – urban economic empowerment zones.
West decried the government’s fostering of economic dependence for black Americans, writing, “Today, the government is issuing electronic benefits transfer cards and even recruiting for enrollment. The government is issuing free cell phones. This is not the dream King wanted, the nightmare of dependence.”
He continued that King would have abhorred the violence in the black community:
North of Dr. King’s birthplace in Atlanta, a young black teenager sits accused of shooting a 13-month-old baby in the face. We know of the killings in Duncan, Okla., and Spokane, Wash., the murders in Chicago and the school bus beating in Gulfport, Fla. Black males comprise 6 to 7 percent of the American population but are responsible for nearly 55 percent of violent crimes … that is not part of the dream.
West noted the disintegration of the family in the black community:
We are witnessing the complete breakdown and collapse of what was the foundational strength of the black community, the family. Today, 72 percent of black children are born out of wedlock … that is not part of the dream. It is, however, the result of the soft bigotry of low expectations . . . When it comes to life, over the past two score years there have been some 13 million black babies aborted. The black community would be 36 percent greater save for this tragedy, this genocide. How many black babies will never experience King’s dream, the American dream? How many will never get to be the next generation of doctors, lawyers, successful business men and women, prominent entertainers and sports figures. This horror is not part of Dr. King’s dream.
Then West targeted the liberal establishment:
The hypocrisy is that liberal progressive Democrats support the choice of a woman to kill black babies but reject the choice of the same woman, or parents, to seek a quality education for black children. President Obama ended Washington, D.C.’s, school voucher program in 2009, yet his progeny attend the elite Sidwell Friends, and now the Obama DOJ is going after Louisiana for its school voucher program.
So where are the voices speaking up about these issues? Last Saturday on the D.C. Mall, I only heard empty platitudes, pointless rhetoric and political agenda speeches. Orwell stated, “In a universe of deceit, truth becomes a revolutionary act.” Dr. King advocated we evaluate the content of one’s character. However, in 2008 Americans voted for someone as president based upon the color of his skin. In 2012, Americans used the same criteria and made the same choice. Perhaps that is the lesson learned from the legacy of Dr. King’s speech, character matters.