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Martin Luther King Had a Dream – Do We?

56 years later, we decode Dr Martin Luther King Jr’s speech to see the tragic contrast that exists in our country.

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Video Editor: Vivek Gupta

“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.”
Dr Martin Luther King Jr, American Civil Rights Activist

On 28 August 1963, Martin Luther King Jr’s words from the steps of Lincoln Memorial left an indelible mark on the world, inspiring people from all walks of life. An American civil rights activist, Dr Martin Luther King Jr had delivered his much celebrated speech “I have a dream” during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

His speech, then delivered to over 250,000 people, was a part of his plea for civil and economic rights and a definite end to racism in the United States.

Back home, 56 years later we map Dr Martin Luther King Jr’s speech against India’s sociopolitical atmosphere.

“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.”
Dr Martin Luther King Jr, American Civil Rights Activist

“All men are created equal” appeared a distant dream on 17 October 2018 when amid violent protests, women were barred from entering the Sabarimala temple in Kerala. Female devotees were forced to return as protesters blocked the road to Sabarimala.

“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.”
Dr Martin Luther King Jr, American Civil Rights Activist

The aspiration of “brotherhood” did not hold very true in India as well, when on 11 July 2016 four Dalits in Una, Gujarat were stripped and beaten up for allegedly skinning a dead cow by cow protection vigilantes. In a viral video reportedly filmed by the attackers, the four Dalit men can be seen being chained to a car, stripped and being flogged with iron rods.

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“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character.”
Dr Martin Luther King Jr, American Civil Rights Activist

But in India, the obsession over skin colour took an ugly turn when on the streets of Delhi’s Malviya Nagar a Nigerian national was beaten up on suspicion of theft. In a viral video the Nigerian is seen tied to a pole and being thrashed and kicked by a group of men – exposing the extent of Indian racism.

“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. And when this happens, and when we allow freedom 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!”
Dr Martin Luther King Jr, American Civil Rights Activist

While these words of the civil rights activist uplifted the spirits of many all over the world, in India, these words of hope still remain a distant dream.

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