20 US states and its territories allow teachers to beat the children in their care. The primary targets are black boys, black girls, Latinos, Native Americans, white low-income students, those having autism, cognitive delays and physical disabilities.
What would Martin Luther King have said? Maybe his speech would have gone something like this.
I Have a Dream
I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.
Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.
But one hundred and forty seven years later, the school child still is not free. One hundred and forty seven years later, the life of the minority school child is still sadly crippled by the manacles of injustice and the chains of discrimination. One hundred and forty seven years later, the minority school child lives on a lonely island of emotional poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred and forty seven years later, the minority school child is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.
In a sense we have come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all citizens, yes, adult citizens as well as young citizens, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of minority school children are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the minority school children a bad check, a check which has come back marked "insufficient funds." But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check — a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of emotional and physical school abuse to the sunlit path of justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quick sands of discriminate injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of America's school children.
It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the child's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Two thousand and eleven is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the minority school children needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the school child is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.
But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.
We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed outraged parents and students must not lead us to a distrust of all educators, for many of our educators, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. They have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.
As we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?" We can never be satisfied as long as any school child is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of educator brutality. We can never be satisfied, as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of being beaten with a wooden board, cannot gain physical safety in the schools of the land and the schools of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the minority school child's basic mobility is from a larger paddle to a smaller one.
We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their self-hood and robbed of their dignity by paddles hanging on the classroom walls. We cannot be satisfied as long as a minority students in Mississippi cannot be free of being beaten like a slave and a student in New York believes that this practice was outlawed years ago. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.
I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from being bent over and beaten in your principals office. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of teacher brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.
Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.
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.
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all school children are created equal."
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the minority school children and the sadistic paddle wielding educators will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be beaten in school but will be treated with kindness and respect.
I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious educators, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls and all students will be able to go to school without being afraid of an educator swinging a wooden board.
I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.
This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to detention together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.
This will be the day when all of America's minority school children will be able to sing with a new meaning, "My country, 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim's pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring."
And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!
Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!
Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California!
But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!
Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!
Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.
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 children and white children, Hispanic and poor children, disabled and persecuted children, 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!"
I first revised this speech and posted it on this blog over two years ago now on 1/16/11. I'm saddened to know that the beatings continue and still no relief in sight for the children being battered in U.S. Public Schools by their ruthless so-called educators. If they are indeed educating children in anything it is violence and little else.