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Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.s I Have a Dream speech is a speech that many Americans, both black and white, are at least somewhat familiar with. In that speech he outlined the basis of how equal rights for the Black person must come about, equal rights that should have been put in place over a century before with the Emancipation Proclamation. But in those years nothing really had changed. Slavery was abolished, but indentured servitude and segregation were commonplace. Dr. King was pleading for a change, NOW!

 

He had a dream of an America where the sons of slaves and sons of slave owners could put the past behind them and enjoy each others humanity. He had faith in his race that they could overcome the situation they were in. He had faith in the American Dream, in egalitarianism, equality for everyone. Equality not based on a persons color, but based upon their character.

 

 

In the 5 scores prior to MLKs historic speech there was an illiterate former slave by the name of Sojourner Truth that questioned Americas attitude towards women. Sojourner, being both a woman and black, had a difficult task ahead of her. In her life as a slave she plowed fields, gathered crops, gave birth to 13 children and lost almost all of them to slavery, and still made it through. Now if that doesnt prove that a woman can do the same and more than a man, I dont know what will.

 

She gave the example of Eve in the Garden of Eden. If one woman could turn the world upside down, a legion of women should be able to fix it with no problem. But man was still hindering a woman from accomplishing anything substantial in life because Christ wasnt a woman. She retaliated by asking them where their Christ had come from. God and a woman was the answer, not man. Sojourner was trying to get man to realize a womans potential. Even if women were going to be left with less opportunity in life, she still asked that whatever they were given would be fair.

 

 

Equality is not a difficult concept to grasp. But in todays society there still hasnt been much change in how people perceive women and Blacks. Yes they have Affirmative Action on their side to make sure that theyre treated equally in the workplace and educational system, but the AAAA cant enforce their ideals on an individuals mind that isnt willing to accept the fact that everyone is equal. And thats where the downfall of any radical idea i.e.; equal rights lies. Society is comprised of many individuals, and in order to change that society the individuals must first change themselves.

 

Just because a person has a darker pigment, or a different anatomical structure doesnt make them different, its just a part of who they are. Another part of who they are, and basically who they are, is their character. If a persons character is prejudiced and that of a bigot they wont ever realize a better America, an America that so many people have a hope for.

 

I think the change Martin and Sojourner wanted to see were basically the same and complimented each other well. In the 1850s Sojourner wanted women, regardless of race, to be treated as equals to men. She was a living example that women can do the same and more than a man, even though she was given less of a chance in life. Martin Luther King, being a well educated Black man in a time when he would still be referred to as a nigger, protested Americas sluggish progress towards the Black races promised equality.

 

As long as niggers and bitches still exist in society, Sojourners and MLKs dreams will be just that - dreams. The glass ceiling will still be there if man holds the false assumption that he is better than a woman, when its obvious that women are just as capable as men. As long as persons are judged on the color of their skin, progress towards racial equality will remain at a snails pace.

 

Sojourner Truth and Martin Luther King Jr. didnt change the world as a whole. But what they did do is change the world for themselves, and thats what counted. By grasping their pure humanity, and being public about what they felt, they planted seeds in peoples minds that continue to blossom to this day. Whether it was 50 years ago, or 150 years ago, the message is still the same - everyone is equal regardless of pathetic superficial differences. They showed that no matter what your position is in life, you the individual can make the world a better place if you treat others as your equal.