Part I: What Has Become Of The Dream?

“…and we shall see what will become of his dreams.” (Genesis 37:20)

Seeing that this is the month that we celebrate and commemorate the life and legacy of the late, great Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., it is only fitting that we make a brief investigation to see what has become of his dream.  Has his dream of equality for all Americans been realized?  Have we as a nation finally overcome the evils of bigotry and racism?  We are going to consider these questions and concerns in two parts.  In this first part that you are reading, we are going to highlight a few of the present realities that affirm that at least a part of Dr. King’s dream has been realized.

The Overthrow of Jim  
Crow and Segregation
Undoubtedly, the greatest achievement of Dr. King and the Civil Right Movement was the defeat of American apartheid.  Everything else that they set out to achieve through the marches, boycotts, sit-ins, and other means of peaceful and nonviolent protest was targeted toward the overthrow of Jim Crow and segregation.  This was their Goliath, their Wall of Jericho that had to be breached and toppled before they could advance forward in pursuit of other objectives.  As a result of their persistent efforts, the walls of Jim Crow and segregation came down thanks to the three branches of government (executive, legislative, and judicial) whose collaborative initiatives made Jim Crow and segregation illegal.  The following information highlights some of the major achievements of their conquest.

Greater Educational Opportunities
Before the abolishment of Jim Crow and segregation in America, especially in the South, the motto of “separate, yet equal” was supposedly the practice of the day.  However, those were just empty and meaningless words, a travesty of truth and a conspiracy to deny and deprive African- American children of a quality and equal education that was being afforded to their white counterparts.  Due to the loss of our cultural identity and rich heritage that we forfeited through the integration process, many African-Americans (myself included) believe that we would have been better off if the practice of separate, yet equal was truly the case.  Howbeit, nothing could be farther from the truth.  We had a substandard system where we often had to use antiquated and hand-me-down books and materials that our white counterparts no longer needed.  Perhaps the greatest act of inequality was the substandard salaries of our teachers and administrators who, in my estimation, did a commendable job, considering the circumstances of what they had to work with in those days.  Thanks to the untiring efforts of Dr. King and the Civil Rights Movement, we have overcome many of the obstacles that barred us from receiving an equal and quality education.  This is also the case on a college level where men like George Wallace once opposed blacks from entering into certain southern colleges and universities.  Through the quota system, which assured that a reasonable amount of minorities would be accepted at certain colleges and universities, have been abolished.  Though the quota system has been terminated, there are still opportunities available for those who are willing to study and apply themselves to the task of obtaining and maintaining scholarships and good grades.

Jobs and Better Jobs
One of the things that the Civil Rights Movement helped to accomplish under Dr. King’s leadership was the opening of the door for better employment opportunities.  Prior to this monumental accomplishment, many blacks had to migrate to the north in pursuit of decent jobs that paid salaries based upon performance, production, and position.  In the Jim Crow south, these types of jobs were prohibited to blacks that had to try to make a living doing seasonal work on the farms.  With the abolishing of Jim Crow and segregation, better jobs gradually became available for many blacks in textile and manufacturing plants.  Many of the top five hundred companies also gradually began to employ blacks in administrative, supervisory, and even a few executive positions.  None of these breakthroughs would have been realized without the gallant effort of Dr. King and the Civil Rights Movement.

Access to Better Communities and Homes
With the destruction of Jim Crow and segregation, came not only greater educational opportunities, jobs, and better jobs, but also the ability and access into better communities and homes.  Communities that were once off-limits and houses that were once beyond the financial ability of most African-Americans’ pocketbooks became obtainable.  The banking institutions that for the most part during the Jim Crow era were reluctant and restricted from lending blacks money began to have a change of policy.  This came about due to governmental pressure and the fact that many blacks, which now had better jobs, could afford to pay back the loans.  All of these advances have to be credited to a great degree to the “Dreamer” and the efforts of the Civil Rights Movement.

Political Gains
Arguably, the greatest success of Dr. King and the Civil Rights Movement has happened in the political arena.  On nearly every level of government, from the local, to the state, to the national, African-Americans have made strides toward equality and equal representation in the area of politics.  There was never a period in the history of our nation when blacks occupied so many elected positions.  Thanks to congressional redistricting and aggressive voter registration drives, blacks have been able to win seats that were once occupied by whites.  Right here on Dillon County and City Councils respectively, there are African-Americans. The congressional Black Caucus, which as of 2013, that consists of 43 representatives from several states and districts, is compelling proof that we have indeed come a long way.  The many black judges on every level, from magistrates to having a Supreme Court Justice, further validate the political gains of African-Americans.  However, our greatest political victory was the election of the first black President, Barack Obama.  
His presidency, as well as the many other political advances made by blacks since the abolishment of Jim Crow and segregation, is the fruit of Dr. King and the Civil Rights Movement.
We are truly indebted to these heroes and it is our responsibility to keep the dream alive.

Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.
Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow.
– Langston Hughes