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As we observe Black History Month, I am reminded of one of my uncle’s most famous quotes. From the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, he declared that he had a dream. He said, “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.”
For many, that creed reflects the very principles this country was built on and those enshrined in our founding documents. Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream embraces life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for ALL people. His dream includes equal rights, equality under the law, opportunity and dignity for all Americans as the one blood, one human race, regardless of skin color.
In recent history, we saw the American Dream reignited. Under the Trump administration, the Black community wasn’t pandered to, offered handouts, or pushed to embrace pro-abortion and anti-family policies. Instead, the Black community experienced breakthroughs, dignity and new opportunities to dream and succeed in life.
With these America First policies in action, African Americans benefited from this chance to make their own way in life. Policies like Opportunity Zones, tax and regulation cuts, school choice, a secure border, and global stability helped lower the Black unemployment rate.
As a result of those policies, the Black poverty rate hit the lowest levels ever recorded in the history of our country, and Black median household incomes rose to the highest it’s ever been.
Sadly, this progress was interrupted, and these trends were reversed the moment the Biden administration began. Under President Biden, positive initiatives such as school choice and the sanctity of life, religious freedom and public safety have been driven from the public square.
In its place are the promotion of abortion and a Department of Justice that has been weaponized against people of faith. The demonization of political opponents has been seemingly sanctioned by the administration, and the Black community is worse off because of it.
Many of America’s leaders have either gone silent or abandoned old-fashioned commonsense and morals and instead embraced a formula of pandering and neglect. As a result, the problems faced by the Black community have gotten worse and worse.
By abandoning the solutions that work, the current administration has been more interested in things like distributing crack pipes for “racial equity,” stirring the “race-baiting” pot with claims of nefarious motives behind the locations of road overpass construction, and using the administrative state to push anti-family and anti-life policies on the Black community.
And to add to this unfortunate situation, there have been recent unexpected attacks on my uncle’s dream from some inside the conservative movement. As a result of these unfounded claims, many minds are reeling at this effort to rebuke the dream.
My heart is broken over the state of America. Yet my faith, hope and love for our merciful God remain. As Christians, we are called to be ever forgiving, always repenting. There is a beautiful scripture in the book of John: “Ye who is without sin, cast the first stone.” Let’s not overlook the beam in our eye and pray that this stone-casting against my uncle ceases.
More than 60 years ago, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said that “instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given its colored people a bad check, a check that has come back marked ‘insufficient funds.’” My uncle also said he “refused 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.”
It’s time to redeposit the check. We must refuse to believe that those vaults of opportunity are empty. Although the current policies in Washington are sending bad checks to the Black community once again, we have seen the achievements that can be made when our leaders put America First policies into action.
This Black History Month, I also want to mention the passing of my beloved cousin, Dexter Scott King. He was a blessing and will truly be missed. I would also like to honor a favorite grandmother of mine. “Big Mama King” was a talented musician, civil rights leader, and woman of faith – and we would all do better to learn from her example.
This past year also took from us a dear friend in Bishop Dean Nelson, whose joy for life and commitment to bettering our country were shining examples for us all.
The examples of these friends and leaders also offer another opportunity to remind us that things do not have to remain in flux as they currently are. Just a few years ago, we saw the progress that could be made when we enact the kind of policies that work.
This year, it’s time again to demand life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness from our elected officials and protection for life from the womb to the tomb and beyond. The progress we have already made forms the very core of my uncle’s dream; let’s reignite that spark today.
The dream is not dead; it’s a dream we can achieve once again, in every generation and decade, on every platform – if only we occupy our hearts and minds with prayer, trust in God, and demand change from our political leaders in Washington and across the nation.