WASHINGTON (CNN) — More than two-thirds of African-Americans believe Martin Luther King Jr.’s vision for race relations has been fulfilled, a CNN poll found — a figure up sharply from a survey in early 2008.
The CNN-Opinion Research Corp. survey was released Monday, a federal holiday honoring the slain civil rights leader and a day before Barack Obama is to be sworn in as the first black U.S. president.
The poll found 69 percent of blacks said King’s vision has been fulfilled in the more than 45 years since his 1963 “I have a dream” speech — roughly double the 34 percent who agreed with that assessment in a similar poll taken last March.
But whites remain less optimistic, the survey found.
“Whites don’t feel the same way — a majority of them say that the country has not yet fulfilled King’s vision,” CNN polling director Keating Holland said. However, the number of whites saying the dream has been fulfilled has also gone up since March, from 35 percent to 46 percent.
Count me amongst the whites who say that the country has not yet fulfilled Dr. King’s dream. While the nation made a huge step forward in the election this past November, to be confirmed tomorrow, we still have a long way to go before everyone in the United States is truly treated as an equal; and where all men (and women) will “not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”
I think that the jubilation that many people are feeling (no matter the color of their skin), while well-deserved, is also temporary. I think that many people will use Mr. Obama’s election as an excuse to try to undo many of the protections of basic civil rights that have been implemented over the past 50 years.
I think that all of us need to be ever vigilant not to step backwards once the initial shine of this historic election and inauguration wear off.
For while I am a white man who wasn’t even born yet when Dr. King gave his historic speech, I still carry his dream, and will until it is fully and permanently realized.