What happens to a dream deferred?While my favorite Hughes poem is probably either "I, Too," or "The Negro Speaks of Rivers" (I heard a recording of, I think, Avery Brooks reading this once and was enthralled by the rhythm of the language), nothing quite captures frustration and longing like "A Dream Deferred."
Does it dry up
Like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore--
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over--
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?
Intentional or not (I imagine it was probably intentional), Dr. King used the dream motif as well, in a quote that most everyone has probably heard.
I say to you today, my friends, so 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 have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal."
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.
. . .
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.I must admit to pessimism. I never thought that America was ready to elect a person of color (or a woman) to the White House. I'm still not, if I'm entirely honest, convinced of Obama's safety, should he actually win -- as it's looking he will.
I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, . . . little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.
I have a dream today.
. . . With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.
This will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with a new meaning, "My country, 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim's pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring."
And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!
Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!
Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California!
But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!
Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!
Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.
And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, "Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"
I must also admit to cynicism. No one politician can change the world. That President Bush was able to ram the PATRIOT Act down Americans' throats and change as much as he has has got to be a historical anomaly. Although Obama's politics more closely mirror my own, I doubt very much that he will live up to the nation's hopes -- but then, neither would McCain should he win. There's too much to do, and politics just doesn't work that way.
But for today -- just for today -- I want to say congratulations to America for looking beyond its troubled past. Just for today. Even should McCain pull a rabbit out of his hat, Barack Obama is within 70 electoral college votes of the presidency. That in itself is huge.
Now, about that whole "equality" thing? That "free at last" thing? That "let freedom ring" thing?
Go vote no on 8. If you haven't already.