If Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. were alive today he would be 81 years old, waiting on America to fulfill a dream he dreamed about 40 years ago.
But despite the level of optimism realized in the election of President Barack Obama, and the essence of that reviewed during the King holiday, Obama’s ascension to office is not the fulfillment of King’s dream.
That is what Isaac Newton Farris Jr., president and CEO of the King Center in Atlanta, said in an interview with the Michigan Chronicle prior to the annual King federal holiday.
Farris said he caught the flack last year on the night of Obama’s election when he cautioned African Americans that the victory of Obama does not translate to the dream that his uncle King talked about decades ago before the March on Washington.
“I think it is significant that young African Americans look at the office of president and see somebody that looks like them. It’s a serious milestone which lets us know that we are on the right road to the dream being realized,” Farris said. “The dream was not about anyone individual or any one race attaining power. How could the dream be true if we still can’t provide all our people healthcare, education and we’ve still got some kids going to sleep at night hungry?”
Farris said that is why the King Center is committed to keeping the legacy of the dreamer alive within the family.
“There has been about three generations that have been born since his death. So our first challenge is making sure those generations and the succeeding generations know and understand King. That’s our first and foremost major challenge,” Farris said. “That might seem shallow or self-serving but the reason that we feel that is our first challenge is because if you know King, if you understand the man, then you know he was definitely a family man.”
On President Obama’s economic policies, Farris wants to see the president address education and health care in minority communities which he said have direct impact on the economic well-being of those communities.
“I like what he (Obama) is doing on education. He is open to looking outside the box,” Farris said even though he expressed concerns about charter schools and “breaking down the public education system.”