Thomas Sowell: Where is black America 50 years after MLK's great speech?
At the core of Dr. King's speech was his dream of a world in which people would not be judged by the color of their skin, but by "the content of their character."
Yet many — if not most — of those who celebrate the "I have a dream" speech today promote the directly opposite approach of group preferences, especially those based on skin color.
What was historic about that speech was not only what was said, but how powerfully its message resonated among Americans of that time, across the spectrum of race, ideology and politics. A higher percentage of Republicans than Democrats voted in Congress for both the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
There has been much documented racial progress since 1963. But there has also been much retrogression, of which the disintegration of the black family has been central, especially among those at the bottom of the social pyramid.Many people — especially politicians and activists — want to take credit for the economic and other advancement of blacks, even though a larger proportion of blacks rose out of poverty in the 20 years before 1960 than in the 20 years afterward.But no one wants to take responsibility for the policies and ideologies that led to the breakup of the black family, which had survived centuries of slavery and generations of discrimination.
Race hustlers who blame all lags on the racism of others are among the obstacles to taking the fullest advantage of education and other opportunities. What does that say about the content of their character?
The nation has just been through a sensationalized murder trial in Florida, on which many people took fierce positions before a speck of evidence was introduced, basing themselves on nothing more than judging those involved by the color of their skin.
Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. His website is tsowell.com.
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