The symbolism was apparent to all but the purposely blind and deaf.
On Wednesday, Barack Obama, this nation’s first black president, stood on the same steps of the Lincoln Memorial where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 50 years before had so eloquently laid out his dream for a colorblind America.
“Because they kept marching, America changed,” Obama told the tens of thousands who had gathered. “Because they marched, city councils changed and state legislatures changed and Congress changed and, yes, eventually, the White House changed.”
Obama’s ascension to the White House — unimagined we imagine on a sweltering Aug. 28, 1963, in Washington, D.C. — is the ultimate evidence that opportunity exists today for all in this country, and that while the playing field will always be tilted in some direction, this nation has been pushed and pulled far down the road toward equality.
So much has changed since King redirected America, most of it good, but not all. We refer you to Rich Lowry’s op-ed piece elsewhere on this page, where Lowry better than we could points out that the civil rights war has been won, even if the charlatans of today who profit off of divisiveness fail to acknowledge the victory.
This nation during the last half century has redistributed billions and billions of dollars of wealth and crafted legislation in an effort to unfurl the injustices of our racist history. Sadly, although idealistic and well-intentioned, these initiatives have not delivered an America that King would have wanted.
We could fill this page with bullet points putting in bold the calamity that is Black America today — the poverty, the high unemployment, the dropout rate, the crime, all hangovers from the past that can only be overcome by those who are afflicted.
But we will focus on one, what we believe gives birth to all the rest: In this nation, three out of four black children are born into a home without a father. These children, in order to capitalize from all that this nation offers, have a longer and bumpier road to follow — just as their ancestors did, but for different reasons.
Our government, and its half-century-old devotion to welfare, has made a father no more than an accessory in too many homes in America, and nowhere is that more clear than in Black America. What could be more selfish than to bring a newborn into this world without two loving and engaged parents there to show the child the way?
The fix for this can only be found in the affected communities, and it is a mystery why black churches have failed so horribly in this assignment. The Rev. King, we are convinced, would be calling on the churches to provide the moral leadership that is required to roll back this rising tide.
This nation’s history can no longer be used as an excuse for what is and what will be. The past does not unalterably set the course for the future. In this nation, prosperity and all its side dishes are there for those willing to do the hard work of getting educated, acquiring a skill and getting that job.
Opportunity, when it isn’t seized, is no more than regret.