January 15, 1929 - April 4, 1968
REVEREND MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.
"I HAVE A DREAM"
In his 1963 book, “Why We Can’t Wait,” writing about the origins of racism in the USA, King strongly condemned the historic injustices inflicted on Native people. He wrote the following:
"Our nation was born in genocide when it embraced the doctrine that the original American, the Indian, was an inferior race. Even before there were large numbers of Negroes on our shores, the scar of racial hatred had already disfigured colonial society. From the sixteenth century forward, blood flowed in battles over racial supremacy. We are perhaps the only nation which tried as a matter of national policy to wipe out its indigenous population. Moreover, we elevated that tragic experience into a noble crusade. Indeed, even today we have not permitted ourselves to reject or to feel remorse for this shameful episode. Our literature, our films, our drama, our folklore all exalt it. " - Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.”
“I want to get rid of the Indian problem. I do not think as a matter of fact, that the country ought to continuously protect a class of people who are able to stand alone… Our objective is to continue until there is not a single Indian in Canada that has not been absorbed into the body politic and there is no Indian question, and no Indian Department, that is the whole object of this Bill.” Dr. Duncan Campbell Scott - 1920
The following statement made in 1837 by U.S. President Martin Van Buren unequivocally articulates the predominate White supremacist mentality that the First Nations peoples of the Americas have had to contend with since Columbus landed in the Americas in 1492.
"No state can achieve proper culture, civilization, and progress ... as long as Indians are permitted to remain."
Perhaps the most momentous event that gave strength to the fight for equality by people of colour around the world was a rally in the United States in 1953 by oppressed people demanding change. On Aug. 28, 1963, 200,000 people participated in a peaceful civil rights rally in Washington, D.C., where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered the following "I Have a Dream" speech in front of the Lincoln Memorial:
I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.
Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.
But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.
In a sense we have 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. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
It is obvious today 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." But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check — a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quick sands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children.
It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.
But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.
We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. They have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.
As we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?" We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied, as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro's basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating "For Whites Only". We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.
I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.
Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.
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 one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
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 have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there 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.
I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.
This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. 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 snow-capped 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!"
North American First Nation People's Dream
Let us, the First Nations People of Canada and the United States of America, victimized by American and Canadian systemic racism, also dream of being treated as equals in both countries. Such a development will not be an easy goal to reach, because American and Canadian societies like to maintain the fiction of the status quo, which mostly depicts their colonial ancestors as near saints.
However, the revelations that the true history of the conflicts between the original owners of the land and the European invaders will knock the status quo out of the picture by revealing the savagery of their ancestors in dispossessing our ancestors of their freedom and property. Such will not be an easy pill for them to swallow. Therefore, we will have to struggle hard to end the systemic racism that has descended down to the present generations of Caucasian Americans and Canadians from colonial demonizing propaganda, which depicted our ancestors as bloodthirsty uncivilized savages.
If the Black People of both Nations, mostly descendants of slaves, can break the chain of racial oppression that denied them dignity and justice for so long, then so can we! Let us start by demanding that both Canada and the United States start the process of dismantling the demonizing systemic racism about our people that the White man’s colonial ancestors, and their generational descendants, dreamed up. Only through this venue, as the Reverend Martin Luther King has proven, can we overcome! We must set such a course of action in motion ourselves, and collect allies along the way, and most important, if we want success, don't expect the White man to do it for us!
Daniel N. Paul, January 24, 2011
To read Dr. King's Bio Click: "I Have a Dream"
The following is proof that Reverend King's dream for his people is coming to reality:
The following was quoted from a column by Doug Cuthand, published in The StarPhoenix, January 23, 2009.
"Obama's inclusive approach lesson for Canada"
“Amid all the hoopla (of Obama's inauguration) was a dignified elderly couple from the Crow reservation in Montana – Hartford and Mary Black Eagle, who adopted Obama as a son in May.
While Obama was campaigning for the Democratic nomination, he visited their reservation in the spring and was warmly welcomed by the tribe. To honour the first national politician to visit the reservation, Obama was inducted as an honorary member of the Crow tribe.
The reservation is the largest in Montana and the second-largest in the United States. It is best known in Indian Country for the Crow Fair, which is held every summer and has a huge powwow and rodeo.
Obama's parents are both dead. His father died in a car accident in Kenya when Barack was 20 and his mother died of ovarian cancer when he was 34. It was because of this, plus their respect for the man, that the Black Eagle family decided to adopt him.
The tribe supported the adoption because the Black Eagle family was well regarded and Hartford is a spiritual healer. Also the family has five generations living on the reservation. It is traditional for First Nations on both sides of the border to adopt individuals. Family is paramount and a person must belong to a "family," which extends into the community.
This was not a political driven exercise or a publicity stunt. The ceremony was private and a purification ceremony was held. He was given the name "Awe Kooda Bilaxpak Kuuxshish" or "One Who Helps People Throughout The Land."
Obama told the assembled crowd, "I like my new name, Barack Black Eagle. That's a good name." He was touched by the ceremony and promised to "shake up" the Bureau of Indian Affairs, which is the American equivalent of our Colonial Office, and to improve health and education programs for Native Americans. He also promised to start honouring the government-to-government relationship that tribes have with the United States.
Citing his experience of growing up in Hawaii, Obama said he knew what it is like to be an outsider and to struggle financially. "I want you to know that I will never forget you," he stated. "And since now I'm a member of the family, you know I won't break my promises to my brothers and sisters."
This week the Congress of American Indians, the American equivalent of the Assembly of First Nations, held a national meting in Washington D.C. Ken Salazar, the secretary of the Interior designate, told the assembly: "First Americans will have their place at the table in the Obama administration and the Department of the Interior."
Obama has seven American Indians on his transition team, which is unprecedented. He also plans to name a senior adviser in his office and an assistant to the secretary of the interior from Indian Country.”
Click to read about American Indian Genocide