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 Rochelle Riley: King's dream must not end with dedication of a monument

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Bài gửiTiêu đề: Rochelle Riley: King's dream must not end with dedication of a monument   Mon Oct 17, 2011 12:29 am



WASHINGTON -- Andrew Young stood with retired General Motors Vice President Rod Gillum in a hallway at the Washington Hilton on Saturday, the eve of one of the biggest events in American civil rights history.UGG Cardy Boot

Inside a nearby ballroom, hundreds celebrated the coming dedication of the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial. But in that hallway, the man who marched with King and the man whose company gave more than any other to make the monument a reality talked about the next day.

• Graphic: Martin Luther King Jr. memorial

Young, former United nations ambassador, former Atlanta mayor, forever civil rights icon, was worried.UGG Cardy

"I'm trying to figure out how to say tomorrow that we haven't achieved it yet -- freedom, " he said.UGG Greenfield

Fourteen hours later, Young found the words, telling an endearing story about King who, to him, was a friend. "Forgive me for starting out with a triviality, " Young told the thousands who gathered at Sunday's dedication, held on two stages -- one at the monument and a second a quarter-mile away.

"When you think of Martin Luther King as a giant of a man, the one complex he had was the complex about his height, " Young said. "He was really just 5 feet 7, and he was always getting upset with tall people who looked down on him. Now he's 30 feet tall, looking down on everybody. "
UGG Greenfield Boot
King didn't give his life for a statue, Young said, but for "the least of these, God's children. "

"The system works if you know how to work it, " he said. "Martin Luther King gave his life to end poverty. You're not going to end poverty by preaching. You're going to end poverty by learning some economics, by sending your children to school, by saving your money, by getting financially literacy.... "
To the pointUGG Mayfaire

Gillum, a member of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Foundation who was a GM executive when the company, despite critics, began giving a $10-million donation to the project, delivered some of the most eloquent remarks.

"The movement asked this nation to embrace the message of common sense embodied in three questions: What color is character? What race is achievement? What nationality is talent? And oh, needn't we forget -- what price is neglect? "

And there, in a nutshell, was -- is -- the point of the civil rights movement, the point of a fight for equality that isn't just about having as many blacks as whites in a room.
UGG Mayfaire Boot
It is about the right to pursue happiness, to pursue achievement, to pursue greatness without the impediment of racism. And as I looked out at a crowd that was a glorious and immeasurable mix of everybody, I hoped that people realized that King's dream was in the mosaic of people standing there honoring him.

And King was honored.
UGG Highkoo
By his daughter, the Rev. Bernice King, who has inherited his oratory.

By his sister, Christine King Farris.

By Mark Reuss, president of GM North america (whose foundation not only gave more than any other donor, who but pledged an additional $100, 000 on Saturday toward the $4 million still needed to complete the monument and ensure maintenance). "I am humbled, " he said at dinner. "I am proud today of my company. I am proud today of my country. "

By actress Diahann Carroll, who was eloquently funny.

"I'm standing here like a fool, at 77 years of age in these high-heel shoes, " said the first African-American actress to star in her own TV series, "Julia, " in 1968.

"I was the star of a Tv show. I don't want to be satisfied with a little show, " she said. "We have to own the damn station. "

By the Rev. Al Sharpton, who dared the crowd to action because of the economy. "This is not about Obama, " he said, referring to the president. "This is about our mama. "
UGG Highkoo Boot
By people who came from across the country, wearing their origins and affiliations on their clothes: proud members of Alpha Phi Alpha, King's fraternity, who birthed the idea of the monument and nurtured it for 15 years; students from universities from east to west. (I bumped into some from my mother's college, North carolina Central University. )#)

Some came to the monument even though they had missed the dedication.

"We overslept, " said Elmira Gayton, 42, a mental health professional from Richmond, Va., who drove up anyway with her friend Carol Bowman, 38, a teacher and counselor. "We couldn't have gotten here in time. But we kept coming. "

They listened to President Barack Obama on the radio as they drove.
A meaningful life

"An earthquake and a hurricane may have delayed this day, but this is a day that would not be denied, " the president said after touring the monument and placing signed copies of his inaugural address and his speech to the 2008 Democratic National Convention in a time capsule.

"For this day, we celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 's return to the National Mall, " Obama said. "In this place, he will stand for all time, among monuments to those who fathered this nation and those who defended it; a black preacher with no official rank or title who somehow gave voice to our deepest dreams and our most lasting ideals, a man who stirred our conscience and thereby helped make our union more perfect. "

Gayton said she wasn't leaving Washington without touching the granite.

"Just the idea of knowing it's there.... It's long overdue, " she said. "I have to touch it. "

But King may have been honored most by Amandla Stenberg, a 12-year-old actress who recounted the story of the little girls killed in the 1963 bombing of a Birmingham, Ala., church, girls "who were my age. "

"As Dr. King said at their funeral, 'They didn't live long lives, but they lived meaningful lives, ' " Amandla said. "I plan to live a meaningful life, too. "

Thanks to Dr. King and the monument that now stands to remind us, she has that right. So do we all.
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