Over the past few days, I have been inspired with public events marking the 50th anniversary of the historic March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom (1963). In that connection, I was pleased with your editorial (Aug. 28) remarking on the continuing pertinence of Martin Luther King Jr.s' "dream."
However, apart from a one-sentence reference to the latest edition of the National Urban League's "State of Black America," your dominant concern seems to be directed toward attitudes of civil rights leaders.
A close study, however, of King's overall mission reveals that his dominant concern was three-fold: racial and ethnic equality, economic justice for all, and the use of nonviolence as the only acceptable means of resolving conflicts, even on the international scene.
Along with all those who designed the 1963 March, he insisted on the rights of all peoples to full employment, decent wages, affordable housing, adequate education, health care. Moreover, he was, in principle, opposed the employment of all forms of violence, military and otherwise, for any and all purposes, even defensive.
In short, his dream of a "beloved community" called for a radical transformation of the ways in which peoples throughout the world relate to each other. His was a dream not for personal social advancement, nor for personal economic wealth, nor for national power, but for justice. Moreover he viewed this dream as a mission not merely for individual action, but, in addition. for political and economic policy and practice.
Against that measure, it is evident we have fallen far short of the impetus underlying the properly famed March on Washington in 1963 even though it retains its valance as a dream worthy of our full commitment.