The greatest right of all — the right of everyone to grow up, and grow old

I, too, have a dream.

Half a century later, we have only begun to live up to the future foreseen by Dr. Martin Luther King on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

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.

In the short course of my own lifespan, I have seen our country grow from separate and unequal to a land where opportunity may not always be equal, but at least exists for more than just a single class.

Where civil rights battles have gone from integrating schools and lunch counters to dreamers and diversity, equal pay and the right to be who you are and marry who you love.

We are not there yet. We still have so very far to go to be the nation Dr. King dreamed we could be.

Yet we have come so far.

I would argue that the greatest achievement of the last half century was not putting a man on the moon, but that a man of color, born when Jim Crow still roamed the earth, could be elected President of these United States.

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.

Yet in one civil rights issue, we have failed miserably.

And that is the right of all children to grow up. And of all people who leave home, by whatever means, to return again safely and live out their lives in peace and freedom.

Not to be stolen from us under a bloody shroud on the streets of our cities, ripping a gaping hole in the lives of their loved ones, in our society and our world.

I have a dream that we will finally take traffic violence seriously.

That our nation will conclude, once and for all, that the 93 deaths that occur on our streets every day are 93 too many. That our world will wake up to the fact that far too many children will never grow up due to our infatuation with the motor vehicle; traffic deaths are, in fact, the leading cause of death among children worldwide.

And that most, if not all, are preventable.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream that the leaders of our cities — my city, especially — our states and our nation will say, finally, enough. And call for a Vision Zero, as has recently been done in New York and San Francisco.

Instead of canceling bike lanes on Westwood and watering-down, if not fatally delaying, plans for complete streets on Figueroa — despite the deaths of 18 bike riders in Los Angeles last year, nearly four times the number of riders killed the year before.

And God only knows how many pedestrians and motorists.

Because it’s not about the mode of transportation. Or the race, creed, class, social status or orientations of the victims.

It’s about the greatest right of all. The right of everyone to grow up, and grow old.

And enjoy the freedoms that are their birthright as Americans. And human beings.

I, too, have a dream.

And when this happens, when we allow freedom to 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!”

………

Thanks to Sam Ollinger for her generous donation. If you’d like to help support this site, you can donate here.

2 comments

  1. Tony Michaels says:

    The coming revolution in automated cars is on the way, much faster than any of us would believe. And that revolution will finally make your fervent plea a much more likely reality.

  2. […] Last link, on MLK Jr. Day BikingInLA has an appropriate statement from us in the bike blog business. The greatest right of all — the right of everyone to grow up, and grow old […]

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