It’s a question worth pondering the day before the first African American is sworn in as President of the United States. Two-thirds of African Americans believe the answer is yes, according to a new CNN poll. That’s double the numbers in a similar poll last March. White Americans aren’t quite as optimistic: Only 46% say the country has fulfilled King’s vision.
It is tough to answer. Obama’s election doesn’t mean matters of race are suddenly “solved.” And it doesn’t mean King’s work would have been finished. King was about more than a dream for racial equality. He campaigned against wars and for economic justice, and for that he was criticized later in life. It’s hard to imagine a man who spoke out against Vietnam and marched for sanitation workers being happy with a war in Iraq and the growing income inequality laid bare by the current economic crisis.
My full thoughts are over at Ablogistan. Even if the dream hasn’t been fulfilled, Obama, like King, has at least given people hope again:
There’s more of a sense than ever that it can be fulfilled. Parents from all races and ethnicities can tell their children that they can grow up to be anything their heart desires, and mean it. From here on out, children won’t see a never-ending string of old white men when they study U.S. presidents in school. People who have grown more and more cynical at the indifference of the Bush administration can feel represented again.
Americans seem to be regaining the sense that our better days are yet ahead. Hope was what King’s dream was all about. And it’s why, whether you think King’s dream has been fulfilled or not, it’s much easier today to believe that it will be someday.