On Aug. 28, 1963 one of the most famous, most quoted speeches of our time was delivered by a very respected citizen – Dr. Martin Luther King said the words “I have a dream.”

Fifty years later, many have been analyzing, speculating and debating over whether or not racial tensions have decreased, whether or not every man is treated equally and if we are following the principles laid out in those powerful words.

On the anniversary of this speech, President Barack Obama is planning to stand on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and offer his own take on the issues. The question is, how will he fare against a speech of such power, dominance and yes, equality?

After Obama was elected, many thought racial tensions would decrease. After all, the majority of Americans elected a black president. However, some might say his election and his leadership regarding racial issues at times has only increased the racial tensions that Dr. King wanted to abolish more than five decades ago.

The president has certainly had plenty of cases where he seems to be choosing sides without the facts. In 2009, Obama quickly jumped to the aide of his friend, an African American law professor from Yale, while being quoted as saying police from the Massachusetts Police Department “acted stupidly” in the incident.

Jumping on the emotional side, citing racial problems in the past, even our president overlooks facts at times. In this case, the white cop under scrutiny turned out to be one who worked to settle racial tensions, and had been a model officer.

Rather than coming right out and admitting he was wrong to jump to a quick judgment, the president had both men at the White House for beer.

Unfortunately, many of the racial tensions that still exist among us can’t be fixed with a beer, and even though some choose to be naive about it, the issues aren’t going anywhere, anytime soon.

Most recently, we had the Trayvon Martin case front and center. Again, the president seemingly ignored facts in the case and spoke about a matter that didn’t need presidential interjection.

Instead, the president compared young Trayvon Martin to himself, or his own son if he had one. First of all, the president forgets that he comes from privilege and trying to make the average American believe he would be in such a situation is a joke.

Early on, no media outlets were reporting the race of either man; it was a tragedy where a teenager lost his life.

However, with the president’s help along with self-appointed rights activists Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, the situation turned to race quickly. The politics of the case made it worse. George Zimmerman would have likely been found guilty had he been charged with a lesser crime, but politics cried for more. In the end, he was not guilty and our president and others still focused on the racial factor.

After such an outcry about Trayvon Martin, I agreed with many last week who wanted to know where Obama’s words of wisdom were when American teenagers took a gun and killed an Australian for no other reason than because they were bored. Two of the teens were African American, one was white. 

With these recent incidents, it feels like we’ve lost sight of the fact that all of these are equal tragedies and by making them about race and politics we are not doing any justice for those we have lost, and we are definitely not following the words from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

(3) comments

John Flanagan

It was correctly pointed out by Thelma Grimes in this editorial that President Obama has too often fanned the racial tensions in our country by continually taking sides prematurely, without factual support, in high visibility incidents. In many cases, he need not have made any statements at all, except a brief comment that the matter would be investigated and the appropriate authorities would decide if racism occurred. When wisdom was handed out, I am afraid this President was not on the right line.
Despite evidence suggesting more work lies ahead, the African American community has made substantial gains in employment, social status, economic income, and assimilation. On the negative side is the African American dependency on the Democratic Party's failed policies and paternalistic attitude towards minorities in general. The Democrats and their political professionals assume they have the black vote, and therefore, aside from the continuous rhetoric and slogans, they can get away with maintaining the status quo. Few African Americans will step away from this dependent relationship, which has not been mutually beneficial to American blacks. It has only been satisfactory to the Democrats and liberals, keeping them in power. While conservative and Republican policy proposals also need transparency, the GOP tends to seek economic prosperity and jobs for white and black alike, while the Dems favor a self defeating program of entitlements....which only work until the economy tanks from too much demand. In short, the African American community need not all become Republicans, but they might at least become independents, and make the Democrats work harder for the African American vote.
As a white man, I believe racial harmony can and will be reached, and that Dr King's legacy can be realized, but it will require us to look forward and stop listening to the racial incitement of popular pundits, who seem more happy in a state of recrimination and hostility then in real solutions. Also, white people cannot solve the problems in the black community related to single mother households, absent fathers, drug use, crime, and to continue to label this a colonialist vestige is wrong. Black leaders must step up, strengthen the family, help their neighborhoods, encourage education. Voting for politicians, white and black, who are sharp and working toward a moral and prosperous society will benefit all citizens.
As a Christian.....we need to all pray about this. Dr King didn't expect an easy ride to reach these goals, and neither should we.


One of the worst editorials I have ever read. How about some knowledge about the subject? Henry Louis Gates, HARVARD professor, was locked out of his own house returning from a trip when he was arrested by a Cambridge police officer who cuffed him as a burglar without listening to Gates explain the circumstance. Was the cop acting stupidly? Pretty much, yes. Was he racially profiling Gates in a predominantly white upper class Harvard neighborhood? YES. The president "comes from privilege"? EH? He was raised by a single mother and his maternal grandparents. At one point his family was on food stamps. He lived a lower middle-class life. He only paid off his copious student loans after the success of the books that he himself wrote. Ms. Grimes, better to remain silent and be thought the fool than to write an editorial and remove all doubt.

John Flanagan

Scratchbaker, the incident involving Professor Gates resulted in his arrest not because of his skin color. He was arrested because he was uncooperative with the police, and refused to answer their questions. Try doing that yourself to experiment. If you are stopped or questioned by the Tucson Police Dept or a local police officer, just be a bit arrogant, show an attitude, act indignant that they would dare pull you over and lawfully ask some questions about the circumstances in question, perhaps you could just scare them away by being forceful and intimidating? The police have a job to do, and if you give them a hard time, just to be a wise guy, then you deserve to be taken away in cuffs to a station house, where you will again be asked to answer a few simple questions. The Gates' incident was caused by only one person....Gates himself.

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