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I Had a Dream: Reflections on Martin Luther King Day

By Kathy Y. Wilson · January 22nd, 2003 · Your Negro Tour Guide
"Morals cannot be legislated, but behavior can be regulated."
--The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

Lemme holla at you today, my people, 'cause even though we're face down in these tripped-out times I still had this dream. It's a dream deeply dipped in the American nightmare.

I had a dream that one day black folks in this city will wake up and scream out the true frustration of their being: "We hold these weaves, these cell phones, these SUVs, these bored meetings, these addictions, these bad-ass children and every lie we've ever told ourselves to be self-hatred; that all folks are created equal and, though equality's been taken from us, we're here to reclaim it."

I had a dream that one day, on the corners of Madisonville, Walnut Hills, Bond Hill, Price Hill, Northside and Avondale, sons of former wage slaves and the sons of former owners of payday loan centers will cease using one another as a means to a dead end.

I had a dream that one day even the city of Cincinnati -- grunting beneath the obesity of injustice, grunting beneath the obesity of classism -- will be whipped into a sanctuary of impartiality and economic equity.

I had a dream that one day my two little nephews will live in a city where they will not be profiled by the color of their skin, nor by the expensiveness of their cars or educations, but by the range of their respectability.

I had a dream last night.

I had a dream that one day, down in Over-the-Rhine -- with its broad daylight drug deals, with its residents flipping cracked mirror images of being trapped and disenfranchised -- one day right there in Over-the-Rhine, little black boys and little black girls will be able to join hands with black mothers and black fathers and walk together as intact families.

I had a dream last night.

I had a dream that one day every guilty cop shall be prosecuted, every councilman and councilwoman shall be made accountable, the homeless will be given shelter and the crooked politicians will be made straight, and the needs of the unregistered voter shall be revealed, and the rest of us shall see it together.

This is my hope. This is the faith that I come to CityBeat with. With this faith I'll be able to mow down out of the mountain of status quo a stone of progressiveness. With this hope I'll be able to strangle dissonance into four-part harmony. With this vision I'll be able to labor, to pray, to struggle, to stand, knowing we'll get the picture one day.

And if Cincinnati is to be a reasonable place to thrive, this must become reality. So let empathy ring from the privileged private drives of Indian Hill. Let self-respect ring from the alleyways of the West End. Let justice ring from the benches of the Hamilton County Justice Center!

And when this comes down the pike, and when we allow empathy, self-respect and justice to ring, when we let them loose from every village and every township, from every community and every outlying suburb, we'll expedite that day when all of God's children -- b-boys and white boys, gays, lesbians, Jews, Gentiles, Protestants, Catholics, anti-Semites and non-believers -- will be able to hook arms and sing in the words of that old Negro spiritual, "Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"

Then I woke up.

Hear Kathy's commentaries on National Public Radio's All Things Considered.


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