1239 GMT January 20, 2019
On Monday, as people celebrate the birthday and life of Martin Luther King Jr., it would be powerful if every American would remember the heart of his “I Have a Dream” speech.
It is one of the most powerful and inspirational speeches in American history.
Delivered on August 28, 1963 to more than 200,000 people while standing in front of the Lincoln Memorial, Dr. King personalized his dream, saying: “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.”
Today, almost 55 years later, we are still all too far from achieving Dr. King’s dream.
It is important to remember the tragic history of African-Americans.
Sold as slaves, shipped in cruel and inhuman conditions, totally dominated by white owners, African-Americans had only as much family stability as their white owners permitted. The first two centuries of African-American life in America violated every ideal to which America is committed.
Despite these conditions, individuals began to rise from the system of slavery. Frederick Douglass was the most famous black orator of the 19th century and spoke passionately for the liberation of slaves. Throughout the North before the Civil War there were more and more free African-Americans.
Americans fought their bloodiest war over slavery. More Americans died in the Civil War than all our other wars combined, through part of the Vietnam War.
President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, freeing the slaves in Confederate states that had not yet surrendered to the Union.
Unfortunately, we have not yet attained the America that Dr. King called for. We still have far too much racial feeling among all ethnic groups. We still tolerate poor children being crushed by incompetent and corrupt bureaucracies that spend huge amounts of money but fail to educate.
Faced with these failures, some Americans have given up on Dr. King’s dream and have begun to advocate a form of toxic identity politics that abandons colorblindness as an ideal.
All of us should take this holiday to reflect on Dr. King’s dream, the obligation all of us have to turn this dream into reality, and the responsibility we bear to ensure that America always strives to live up to its ideals.
This is the response Dr. King would have wanted for his birthday.
*Newt Gingrich is former speaker of the US House of Representatives. The above was excerpted from Fox News.