John D. Burns: Speech still relevant

August 26, 2013 

Relevant part

Thank you for publishing the text of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech on Aug. 25.

I was disappointed, however, that in editing it, you excluded King’s trenchant criticism of American history: “In a sense we’ve come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. ... It is obvious today that that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked ‘insufficient funds.’ ”

The March on Washington was not designed to be a “Kumbaya” moment, though we like to remember it as such. It was a shot across the bow of the federal government in Washington, to force action against the segregationist policies of the states.

Given the destruction currently taking place in Raleigh in the name of insufficient funds, King’s call is as relevant today as it was in 1963.

John D. Burns


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