From Juan Galis-Menendez, part of a beautiful reflection on difference and belonging:
I wanted then, what I want now — what we all want — freedom. I refused and will always refuse to accept any and all imprisoning categories. I am not what they see and laugh at; I am not what my uncle is; I am not what I was before I came here. I am what exists between “I am not” and “I will be…”
The place between “I am not” and “I will be” is where you will find W.E.B. DuBois and Dr. King. It is the spiritual homeland of all African-Americans, because it is the truth about America’s promise and it is hope, always hope, for a people who have experienced evil at first hand, who are, in a sense, journeying home from exile.
Both Dr. King and W.E.B. DuBois, but also James Baldwin, Maya Angelou (look at their smiles and at their eyes when they smile), Amiri Baraka, Toni Morrison and so many others can help you get there. They want you to join them on this journey. They (and we) are still struggling.
And still we are not saved…
Here are some of those struggles: from Sojurner Truth, who asks, “Ain’t I a Woman?” From W.E.B. Du Bois, who asks, “How does it feel to be a Problem?” From Martin Luther King, Jr., who asks, “Can we bank on this dream?” And from Barack Obama, who claims that, “Yes, we can.”
From the March on Washington, 1963 (read Drew Hansen’s, The Dream: Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Speech that Inspired a Nation for a deeper analysis of the speech and the reasons for its impact, and visit the Civil Rights Digital Library for resources on the modern American civil rights movement.); and from the Democratic National Convention, 2008 (here is the transcript).
As for the deeper impact of this last speech, well–that is up to all of us.