Martin Luther King Day – As growing inequality sinks our nation

Connecticut’s wealthiest residents pay about 5.5% of their income in state and local taxes.  The middle class pay about 10%, while the poor pay about 12% of their income in state and local taxes.

But Governor Dannel Malloy will continue to fight any and all proposals to require the wealthy to pay their fair share in taxes.  In his now infamous speech to the Connecticut legislature in 2011, Malloy said he would fight a tax increase on the wealthy because he didn’t want to punish success?

And even if Connecticut raised the income tax rate significantly on Connecticut’s wealthiest, they would still be paying far less in state and local taxes than they would if they lived in New York, New York City, New Jersey or Massachusetts.

So what is the truth about inequality in the United States?

According to the Institute for Policy Studies,

Income disparities have become so pronounced that America’s top 10 percent now average nearly nine times as much income as the bottom 90 percent. Americans in the top 1 percent tower stunningly higher. They average over 38 times more income than the bottom 90 percent.

In the United States, wealth inequality runs even more pronounced than income inequality

Over the past century, the share of America’s wealth held by the nation’s wealthiest has changed markedly. That share peaked in the late 1920s, right before the Great Depression, then fell by more than half over the next three decades [When tax rates were progressive to ensure the wealth paid their fair share]. But the equalizing trends of the mid 20th century have now been almost completely undone. At the top of the American economic summit, the richest of the nation’s rich now hold as large a wealth share as they did in the 1920s.

The 21st century has not been kind to average American families. The net worth — assets minus debts — of most U.S. households fell between 2000 and 2011

The rich don’t just have more wealth than everyone else. The bulk of their wealth comes from different — and more lucrative — asset sources. America’s top 1 percent, for instance, holds nearly half the national wealth invested in stocks and mutual funds.

Most of the wealth of Americans in the bottom 90 percent comes from their principal residences, the asset category that took the biggest hit during the Great Recession. These Americans also hold almost three-quarters of America’s debt.

The billionaires who make up the Forbes 400 list of richest Americans now have as much wealth as all African-American households, plus one-third of America’s Latino population, combined. In other words, just 400 extremely wealthy individuals have as much wealth as 16 million African-American households and 5 million Latino households.

The Great Recession deepened the longstanding racial and ethnic wealth divide in the United States. The typical white family held a net worth six times greater than the typical black family at the end of the 20th century. That gap has now doubled. The wealth gap between white and Hispanic households has widened as well.

So the rich get richer and the rest of us continue to lose ground, with the hardest hit being those who come from the Nation’s communities of color

But do Americans even begin to understand this depth of the problem?

The answer appears to be a resounding NO!

For example, a study entitled, “How Much (More) Should CEOs Make? A Universal Desire for More Equal Pay” discovered that Americans are clueless about how bad the situation is when it comes to the gap between CEO and worker pay.  Analyzing a 2009 international survey of 55,187 people from 40 countries the study found that when it comes to understanding the severity of inequality, “we’re the most clueless of all.”

Writing in Alternet, Les Leopold, the author of Runaway Inequality: An Activist’s Guide to Economic Justice observed,

Americans are virtually blind to the growing gap between CEO pay and the pay of the average worker… In 1965, for every dollar earned by the average worker, CEOs earned $20. By 2012, that gap mushroomed to 354 to one.

But, when asked in the survey, Americans grossly underestimated this gap. Instead of 354 to 1, the Americans in representative survey think it is only 30 to 1. When asked what the ideal pay gap should be, Americans say that a fair gap would be about 7 to 1.

More amazing still, the survey results, combined for all countries, show that the misperception of inequality doesn’t significantly vary by age, gender, income, political leanings or education.

That is right, Democrats, Republicans, liberals, conservatives, those with more education and those with less education, all we almost equally misinformed about the difference between CEO pay and that of the average worker.

Strong Democrats” estimated that the actual ratio between a CEO of a large corporation and an unskilled factory worker was about 36 to 1. “Strong Republicans” said it was 40 to 1. A difference without a distinction.

When it comes to offering opinions about what the wage gap should be, the Strong Democrats thought 5 to 1 was about right, while the Strong Republicans thought it should be about 12 to 1. The two political extremes obviously are much closer to each other than to the current reality of 354 to 1.

Billionaire Donald Trump and his Billionaire cabinet speak volumes about just how out of touch Americans are and further portend the continued destruction of an egalitarian society.

The notion that,

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,”

…is becoming a distant dream of a long-lost fantasy.

Yohuru Williams asks – What Would Dr. King Say About the Corporate Assault on Public Education?

Dr. Yohuru Williams is one of my heroes, as well as a fellow education blogger and activist.  Dr. Williams is also a professor of history and a dean at Fairfield University in Connecticut.

This wise and powerful commentary piece first appeared in the Progressive on January 16, 2015.  It has since been reposted on many blogs.

What Would Martin Say?  (By Dr. Yohuru Williams)

This year marked the fiftieth anniversary of Mississippi Freedom Summer and the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, one of the most important pieces of civil rights legislation in US history. It also has marked a renewed push by the proponents of corporate education reform to dismantle public education in what they persist in referring to as the great “civil rights issue of our time.” The leaders of this effort, including US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, are fond of appropriating the language of the civil rights movement to justify their anti-union, anti-teacher, pro-testing privatization agenda. But they are not social justice advocates. And Arne Duncan is no Reverend King.

In a 2010 speech observing the forty-fifth anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery March, Duncan boldly invoked the words of John Kennedy: “Simple justice requires that public funds . . . not be spent in any fashion which encourages, subsidizes, or results in racial discrimination.” Duncan enjoined those in attendance, “Let me repeat that, President Kennedy said that no taxpayer dollars should be spent if they subsidize or result in racial discrimination.” Yet Duncan and the Obama Administration—through Race to the Top, a program similar to the Bush Administration’s No Child Left Behind—have pursued policies that exacerbate segregation and racial inequality.

In a 2010 interview with then-chancellor of the New York City Department of Education Joel Klein, Duncan went even further, invoking the name of Martin Luther King to justify attacks on public schools. Dr. King “explained in his powerful Letter from Birmingham Jail why the civil rights movement could not wait,” said Duncan. “America today cannot wait to transform education. We’ve been far too complacent and too passive. We have perpetuated poverty and social failure for far too long. The need is urgent and the time for change is now.”

But there is plenty of evidence that King would never have endorsed corporate education reform or privatization. Consider how King defined the role of education.

While still an undergraduate at Morehouse College in Atlanta in 1947, King said: “I too often find that most college men have a misconception of the purpose of education.” They “think that education should equip them with the proper instruments of exploitation so that they can forever trample over the masses.” He continued: “Still others think that education should furnish them with noble ends rather than means to an end.”

Here, King plainly laid out two visions of education that continue to war against each other. While he acknowledged the importance of an education in preparing persons for the workforce, enabling “man to become more efficient, to achieve with increasing facility the legitimate goals of his life,” he also saw a much deeper purpose.

“We must remember,” King warned, “that intelligence is not enough . . . Intelligence plus character—that is the goal of true education.” He asserted, “The complete education gives one not only power of concentration, but worthy objectives upon which to concentrate.”

King saw the goal of education as more than performance on high-stakes tests or the acquisition of job skills or career competencies. He saw it as the cornerstone of free thought and the use of knowledge in the public interest. For King, the lofty goal of education was not just to make a living but also to make the world a better place by using that production of knowledge for good. “To save man from the morass of propaganda,” King opined, “is one of the chief aims of education. Education must enable one to sift and weigh evidence, to discern the true from the false, the real from the unreal, and the facts from the fiction.” The notion that privatization can foster equality is fiction.

King was born into a world in which privatization was the enemy of equality. In the 1930s, for instance, the NAACP struggled against agents of the Democratic Party in many southern states that tried to define it as a private club; they cut off avenues to full political participation through vehicles like the white primary. Poll taxes and literacy tests were also still employed in many locations to deny African Americans political participation. It is hard to imagine King under any circumstances endorsing either testing or privatization as the means of ensuring equality.

In fact, King by implication strongly rebuked the privatizers in his observations regarding Senator Eugene Talmadge, the notorious segregationist governor of his home state of Georgia.

Talmadge, King observed, “possessed one of the better minds of Georgia, or even America,” and “wore the Phi Beta Kappa key.” King reflected, “By all measuring rods, Mr. Talmadge could think critically and intensively; yet he contends that I am an inferior being. Are those the types of men we call educated?”

The same could be said at present for the cadre of corporate education reformers touting Ivy League degrees and billion-dollar bank accounts without an ounce of empathy for those harmed by their efforts. Like Talmadge, they fail to see beyond the narrow confines of their own self-interest the inherently dangerous and corrosive impact their policies are having not only on the nation’s youth but also the foundations of American democracy. When Arne Duncan suggests, for instance, as he did in a speech at a Brooklyn charter school in 2009, that based on high-stakes testing, “we should be able to look every second grader in the eye and say, ‘You’re on track, you’re going to be able to go to a good college, or you’re not,’ ” there is a serious problem. In neglecting to address how the nation would deal with the so-called failures on these high-stakes tests, he is not only betraying the movement but the very function of education as King imagined it.

King would never have endorsed high-stakes testing. “The function of education,” he explained in 1947, “is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically.” Furthermore, he never would have supported any individual or group that promoted a view of education simply as a means of ensuring job efficiency without human compassion. Education that “stops with efficiency,” he warned, “may prove the greatest menace to society. The most dangerous criminal may be the man gifted with reason, but with no morals.”

King saw how school privatization was used to maintain segregation in Georgia. He witnessed the insidious efforts of Eugene Talmadge’s son, Herman, a distinguished lawyer, who succeeded his father in the governor’s office. Herman Talmadge created what became known as the “private-school plan.” In 1953, before the Supreme Court’s ruling in Brown v. Board of Education, Talmadge proposed an amendment to the Georgia Constitution to empower the general assembly to privatize the state’s public education system. “We can maintain separate schools regardless of the US Supreme Court,” Talmadge advised his colleagues, “by reverting to a private system, subsidizing the child rather than the political subdivision.” The plan was simple. If the Supreme Court decided, as it eventually did in Brown, to mandate desegregation, the state would close the schools and issue vouchers to allowing students to enroll in segregated private schools.

What we are seeing in the name of “reform” today is the same plan with slight modifications: brand schools as low-performing factories of failure, encourage privatization, and leave the vast majority of students in underfunded, highly stigmatized public schools.

This effort will create an America that looks more like the 1967 Kerner Commission’s forecast, two societies separate and unequal, than Martin Luther King’s Beloved Community.

For King, the Beloved Community was a global vision of human cooperation and understanding where all peoples could share in the abundant resources of the planet. He believed that universal standards of human decency could be used to challenge the existence of poverty, famine, and economic displacement in all of its forms. A celebration of achievement and an appreciation of fraternity would blot out racism, discrimination, and distinctions of any kind that sought to divide rather than elevate people—no matter what race, religion, or test score. The Beloved Community promoted international cooperation over competition. The goal of education should be not to measure our progress against the world but to harness our combined intelligence to triumph over the great social, scientific, humanistic, and environmental issues of our time.

While it seeks to claim the mantle of the movement and Dr. King’s legacy, corporate education reform is rooted in fear, fired by competition and driven by division. It seeks to undermine community rather than build it and, for this reason, it is the ultimate betrayal of the goals and values of the movement.

Real triumph over educational inequalities can only come from a deeper investment in our schools and communities and a true commitment to tackling poverty, segregation, and issues affecting students with special needs and bilingual education. The Beloved Community is to be found not in the segregated citadels of private schools but in a well-funded system of public education, free and open to all—affirming our commitment to democracy and justice and our commitment to the dignity and worth of our greatest resource, our youth.

 

CT Charter Schools are a vehicle for segregation

The numbers tell the true story. 

According to reports filed with the Connecticut State Department of Education, Connecticut’s Charter Schools are more racially segregated than the communities in which they are located.

While the State of Connecticut spends hundreds of millions of dollars every year to reduce racial isolation in our urban school districts, as required by Connecticut’s Constitution and Courts, Governor Dannel Malloy is pumping more than $100 million a year into Connecticut Charter Schools despite the fact that they have become a primary vehicle for the segregation of our public school system.

Here is the data:

School District/Charter School Percent Minority
Hartford School District 89%
Jumoke Charter School 100%
Achievement First – Hartford 100%

 

School District/Charter School Percent Minority
New Haven School District 85%
Achievement First – Amistad 98%
Achievement First – Elm City 99%
Highville Charter School 99%
Common Ground Charter School 99%

 

School District/Charter School Percent Minority
Stamford School System 66%
Stamford Academy Charter School 96%
Trailblazers Charter School 96%

 

School District/Charter School Percent Minority
Bridgeport School System 91%
Achievement First – Bridgeport 99%
Bridge Academy Charter School 98%
New Beginnings Charter School 99%

 

Sixty years ago,  the historic Supreme Court case of Brown vs. Board of Education determined that when it comes to public schools, separating out child on the basis of race, violated the most fundamental tenets of the United States Constitution and was therefore illegal.

The United State Supreme Court held segregation was segregation, whether mandated by law or allowed to exist because of a lack of laws and policies that ended up producing segregation.

Today, as the United States finds itself drowning in rising racism and segregation, Connecticut’s charter schools serve as a stark reminder that de facto segregation not only remains intact but that elected officials lack the courage, the conviction or both to stand up against the segregation that is undermining our nation…in this case privately-owned, but publicly-funded charter schools.

Late last week, as CTNewsJunkie reported in an article entitled, Ed Committee Jettisons Charter School Moratorium, the General Assembly’s Education Committee ducked their responsibility to adopt a moratorium preventing any additional charter schools in Connecticut until proper oversight was developed and the charter schools dropped their practices that lead to greater segregation and the discrimination against children that need special education services or aren’t fluent in the English Language.

Upon news of the bill’s defeat, Achievement First’s Co-CEO, Dacia Toll cheered on the legislators’ decision to look the other way on real charter school accountability saying, “The moratorium on public charter schools would have been a huge step backward.”

What an incredible statement – Stopping the expansion of charter schools until they join the effort to reduce racial isolation and end their blatant de facto discrimination against children who need help with the English Language or need special education services would be a “huge step backward?”

It is a disturbing yet telling commentary that the House Chair of the Education Committee, State Representative Andrew Fleischmann of West Hartford, and his colleagues buckled to the pressure from Governor Dannel Malloy and the charter school industry.

By failing to put a charter school moratorium in place, these public officials are effectively adding their seal of approve to the Charter School Industry’s ongoing violation of the most fundamental laws and values of the United States and the State of Connecticut.

As evident from the millions they are spending on television ads and lobbing, by wrapping themselves in the mantle of “civil rights,” the corporate-funded charter schools claim some kinship or association of the civil rights movement in the United States.

But in truth, Connecticut’s charter schools are nothing short of a vehicle for injustice.

One need only read the words of Martin Luther King Jr. and other true civil rights champions to understand the fraudulent claims being made by the charter schools.

As Martin Luther King Jr. said in his 1963 Great March in Detroit;

“For we have come to see that segregation is not only sociologically untenable, it is not only politically unsound, it is morally wrong and sinful. Segregation is a cancer in the body politic, which must be removed before our democratic health can be realized. Segregation is wrong because it is nothing but a new form of slavery covered up with certain niceties of complexity.

[…]

No community in this country can boast of clean hands in the area of brotherhood. Now in the North it’s different in that it doesn’t have the legal sanction that it has in the South. But it has its subtle and hidden forms and it exists in three areas: in the area of employment discrimination, in the area of housing discrimination, and in the area of de facto segregation in the public schools. And we must come to see that de facto segregation in the North is just as injurious as the actual segregation in the South. And so if you want to help us in Alabama and Mississippi and over the South, do all that you can to get rid of the problem here.”

Despite their affinity for Connecticut’s charter school industry, Connecticut’s elected and appointed public officials have an obligation to stop the expansion of charter schools in Connecticut and require that these publicly-funded, but privately-owned education entities start abiding by our laws or close them down.

Celebrating Our History – Modern American Style….

You know that line about history and being condemned to repeat it….

It seems sad, but oddly fitting that as the “holiday” known as Martin Luther King Day comes to an end, a press release arrives with the news that a group of prominent U.S. labor, academic and arts figures have joined together to write a letter of protest concerning the censorship of an important labor mural by the Museum of the City of New York.

The commissioned artwork was created by Connecticut State University professor, artist and activist Mike Alewtz.

The press release announces that, “a group of 35 leading labor officials, artists, authors and academics released an Open Letter sent to the Museum of the City of New York (MCNY) and the Puffin Foundation.  The letter protests the refusal of the museum to install a work of art commissioned for the recently created Puffin Gallery in the MCNY by muralist Mike Alewitz.

The press release states,

“As individuals deeply concerned about both the history and current status of the labor movement, we are writing to oppose the suppression and censorship of a major new labor mural, The City at the Crossroads of History.”

And it goes on to explain,

“We believe that events like the strikes of maritime workers, the Stonewall rebellion, the fight for the 8-hour day, rent strikes, the anti-Vietnam War movement, the Black nationalist movement and the rest of our history deserves to be seen by the very people who build and provide the resources to maintain cultural institutions like our foundations and museums.

We believe that Malcolm X, Frederick Douglass, Margaret Sanger and a host of other individuals who went to jail or gave their lives for our movement should not be hidden from view.

To deny our legacy, in a gallery that purportedly represents the tradition of social activism, is an insulting slap in the face to activists, artists, unionists and all those whose work contributes to the prosperity of the city.”

You can see the mural by following the link below —- it is spectacular to say the least!

For background about the issue, the announcement adds,

“The mural, composed of four panels, was created by Mike Alewitz over the course of several years. Alewitz is a well-known artist working in the US and internationally.  He is an Associate Professor of Art at Central CT State University, where he directs the mural painting program.

Alewitz’s mural was unanimously praised and accepted by the Puffin Foundations’ officers and the committee of leading historians and cultural figures that oversaw the construction and installation of the Puffin Gallery.  However, MCNY Director Susan Henshaw Jones has refused to install the mural.  Attempts by the National Coalition Against Censorship and others to discuss the issue have not been acknowledged.”

Finally, the media announcement goes on to note that the letter of protest, “comes close to the anniversary of another famed case of New York censorship – February 9 marks the anniversary of the 1934 destruction of Man at the Crossroads, a mural by Diego Rivera that was famously destroyed by Nelson Rockefeller.”

* * *

The full letter, including the list of signers can be found at: https://docs.google.com/document/d/15oBMfjsJgQ9YKnzG56h6O1M4jmsZ9z8sRGa_Nnc1Y_0/pub 

To see the mural – click on the following – A PowerPoint tour of the mural: THE CITY AT THE CROSSROADS OF HISTORY can be accessed via- https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1tIw5DK-Fit900un-WTDPoIajF9wfjp39XJIY7cMHZ5s/pub?start=false&loop=false&delayms=3000

And for more about Connecticut based muralist Mike Alewitz, go to: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1FlimRnwePDxeDyRtvGv14acZEX2AIVF2WGCQI4MdNLQ/pub

 

Principal Steve Perry, you just don’t get it – it’s the double standard that is so offensive!

The celebration of Martin Luther King’s Birthday was an opportunity to celebrate Dr. King’s life, recognize his incredible contributions to our world and come to grips with the reality that our nation is failing to make much, if any, progress when it comes to the Dream that Dr. King laid out for our society.

A prime example of that failure is America’s infatuation with and dependence on incarceration. As noted in a recent Atlantic Monthly article, “while the United States has 5 percent of the world’s population we house 25 percent of the world’s prisoners.”

Highlighting the myriad problems with our country’s criminal justice system is something that Capital Prep Principal Perry is actually quite articulate about.  He often tweets about the unfair and racist approach taken against young African-American Males.

And he is right…

But the problem is not simply a system that unfairly targets Blacks.  As the Atlantic Monthly story explained, according the Journal of Crime & Delinquency, “By age 23, nearly 50 percent of America’s black males, 44 percent of Hispanic males, and 38 percent of white males have been arrested.”

There is no doubt that we are surrounded by racism but equally appalling is the fact that we’ve seen the creation of an underclass and that regardless of race, Americans without money and status are treated very differently than those who have the wealth, status and prestige to do as they wish.

Capital Prep Principal Steve Perry is living proof of this double standard.

When Steve Perry tweeted his now infamous threat that he was going to “strap up” and “there will be head injuries” he wasn’t arrested.

In fact, despite a call for an investigation, his employer, the Hartford Board of Education apparently took no action at all.

Perry’s Tweet was as follows;

Dr. Steve Perry‏@DrStevePerry
The only way to lose a fight is to stop fighting. All this did was piss me off. It’s so on. Strap up, there will be head injuries.

When Perry was confronted with mounting criticism about his words he Tweeted WNPR reporter John Dankosky, “@johndankosky John, does the word metaphor mean anything to you? I really and truly used to think that you were a real actual news guy.”

By comparison, look what happened to student at Doss High School in Louisville, Kentucky.

According to media accounts, an 18 year old “Doss High School student has been arrested after police say he posted multiple threats on Twitter.”

His tweets…

“Is time to get da [expletive] straps out [expletive] heads about to get blown away!!!”
 
“Doss ain’t ready for wat I got coming to em,”

A local television news report explained that, “The student was arrested and charged with terroristic threatening… A letter was sent home with students Monday afternoon, explaining the situation and saying students were never in danger.”

The kid said he was simply joking, but the “joke” got him arrested.

Google the words “student arrested,” “twitter” and “joking” and you will find dozens and dozens of situations in which students were arrested, sometimes for specific Twitter threats and other times for more generalized threats. But joking or not, the individuals were arrested.

But lets face the reality of the situation.  The young Kentucky man’s Tweet, “Is time to get da [expletive] straps out [expletive] heads about to get blown away!!!” is not very different from Perry’s Tweet, “All this did was piss me off. It’s so on. Strap up, there will be head injuries.”

Weather permitting the Hartford Board of Education is finally scheduled to discuss Principal Steve Perry in executive session tonight.  That discussion will take place behind closed doors and it is not clear the particular issues that will be discussed.

But the sad truth is that no matter what happens, in present day America, wealth and status kept Steve Perry from being arrested for something that probably would have gotten a student arrested, put in handcuffs and led away.

That is the double standard.

That is exactly the type of discrimination that Martin Luther King Jr. was talking about fifty years ago.

For Martin Luther King, it wasn’t “bad” segregation vs. “okay” segregation.

It was June 23, 1963 and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was leading the Great March on Detroit, which has also been called “The Walk to Freedom.” Speaking to a crowd of more than 25,000 people at Cobo Hall in Detroit King said:

“For we have come to see that segregation is not only sociologically untenable, it is not only politically unsound, it is morally wrong and sinful. Segregation is a cancer in the body politic, which must be removed before our democratic health can be realized. Segregation is wrong because it is nothing but a new form of slavery covered up with certain niceties of complexity. Segregation is wrong because it is a system of adultery perpetuated by an illicit intercourse between injustice and immorality. 

[…]

 “I think we all will agree that probably the most damaging effect of segregation has been what it has done to the soul of the segregated as well as the segregator.”

And King reserved some of his most powerful words for the segregation in the North where he said;

“No community in this country can boast of clean hands in the area of brotherhood. Now in the North it’s different in that it doesn’t have the legal sanction that it has in the South. But it has its subtle and hidden forms and it exists in three areas: in the area of employment discrimination, in the area of housing discrimination, and in the area of de facto segregation in the public schools. And we must come to see that de facto segregation in the North is just as injurious as the actual segregation in the South. And so if you want to help us in Alabama and Mississippi and over the South, do all that you can to get rid of the problem here.”

Dr. King did not differentiate between BAD segregation and segregation that was OKAY or that was acceptable.    

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. made it clear that ALL segregation was bad.

But here we are 50 years later and multiple forms of segregation surround us.

Earlier today, Capital Prep Principal Steve Perry tweeted that “Dr. Martin Luther, Jr was a huge critic of US public ed.”

Proving that even Steve Perry and those of us who believe in the importance of public education can agree on something… Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a huge critic of US public education.

But to use King’s words to defend the corporate education reform industry’s effort to expand charter schools and support the privatization of public education is beyond disingenuous.

As King noted over and over again, in the North the problem of segregation was just as serious as in the South but it came in the form of de facto segregation, just as the Supreme Court had ruled in Brown vs. Board of Education.

De facto segregation remains one of the greatest threats to our public education system, our society and our future.

But Perry and his charter school allies couldn’t be more wrong when they imply that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would support their vision of education policy.

Every single one of Connecticut’s major charter schools is even more segregated than the school districts that they serve and as proof of their use of de facto segregation, every charter school, along with Perry’s own Capital Prep., fails to enroll or maintain their fair share of Hispanic students, students that aren’t fluent in English or students that go home households where English is not the primary language.

As the following chart clear show, segregation comes in many forms and some of the most serious segregation can found in Connecticut’s charter schools and schools like Capital Prep.

District/School % Hispanic % not fluent in English % from homes where English isn’t primary language

Hartford School System

49.7%

18%

39.7%

 

Capital Prep

21.7%

3.4%

13.9%

 

Jumoke Academy

3.9%

0.2%

 

Achievement First – Hartford

13.9%

6.7%

7.6%

     

 

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. did not distinguish between BAD segregation and segregation that was OKAY.

King never minced words.  He was an American Hero and an American Revolutionary.  He spoke the truth no matter the result and he paid for that with his life.

The stark reality is that as a nation and a society we have made little progress in achieving King’s Dream.

But as we grapple with that failure don’t let anyone fool you…As King said, segregation is segregation and schools that segregate against certain ethic groups or segregate against those who are in need of special educational services are failing to achieve King’s Dream just as much as those who segregate based on the color of a child’s skin.

In addition to discriminating against Latinos and non-English speaking students, Connecticut’s Charter Schools and schools like Capital Prep do just as bad, if not even worse, when it comes to discriminating against students who require some additional special educational services.

District/School % of students needing Special Education Services

Hartford School System

13.5%

 

Capital Prep

6.3%

 

Jumoke Academy

4.1%

 

Achievement First – Hartford

6.7%

 

 

 

Addressing the unfinished tasks laid out by Martin Luther King is everyone’s responsibility but let’s start with an honest assessment of what is really going on in Connecticut when it comes to the de facto segregation that is undermining the ethical and moral authority of our public schools.

The unfinished task and using Martin Luther King Day to better understand our responsibilities…

We Americans have a very strange way of doing things when it comes to celebrating important historical events that appear on our calendars. 

On days like Martin Luther King Day we “take the day off” rather than focus our energy on appreciating and rededicating ourselves to his clarion call for action.

Meanwhile, on days when we should be surrounding ourselves with family, friends and community, like Thanksgiving Day, we are being told to get out and shop.

Using his wit, charm, incredible intellect and vision for a better world, Martin Luther King Jr. would undoubtedly have something to say about the way modern America approaches its “holidays.”

Our Nation’s failure to make much progress when it comes to Martin Luther King’s broader dream for our country and our world is one of our society’s greatest failures.

A common theme here at Wait, What? has been our state’s failure to address the real challenges to universal educational achievement.  The corporate education reform industry be damned, poverty, language barriers and the failure to provide sufficient services to students with special needs are the true factors that limit student achievement.

When speaking last week with a fellow public education advocate about the continued segregation of our schools in Connecticut, the inequitable distribution of educational resources and the colossal waste of time and money associated with the standardized testing frenzy, they sent me a copy of school paper written by Noah Schaffer, a thirteen year old student who lives here in Connecticut.

Noah wrote;

“First of all, Martin Luther King Jr’s dream did not come true because there are many examples of racism and segregation in everyday life. Some will argue that African Americans are not struggling financially as they were at the time of the Civil Rights Movement. However, the unemployment rate for African Americans was at 13.4% in 2013. This is exactly double the amount of the Caucasian unemployment rate, which was at 6.4% in 2013. This shows that African Americans are still struggling when it comes to finance, even 51 years after Dr. King’s speech.

Some people may argue that African Americans are now welcome into schools, and that schools are less segregated. However, studies have shown that public schools are more segregated now than they were 40 years ago, only a decade after the March on Washington.”

Noah’s understanding that Martin Luther King’s dream for America was broad and deep and our failure to make much progress in achieving that dream is destroying our society, I was reminded that we would all do well to use Marin Luther King Day to stop and listen, learn and re-dedicate ourselves to King’s call to action and the unfinished task that faces each and every one of us.

To that end, here are some of the speeches, letters and quotes that should be mandatory reading for every citizen in preparation of the “holiday” we call Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Letter to Coretta (his future wife) on July 18, 1952

“I imagine you already know that I am much more socialistic in my economic theory than capitalistic. And yet I am not so opposed to capitalism that I have failed to see its relative merits. It started out with a noble and high motive, to block the trade monopolies of nobles, but like most human systems it falls victim to the very thing it was revolting against. So today capitalism has outlived its usefulness. It has brought about a system that takes necessities from the masses to give luxuries to the classes.”

I Have a Dream” speech at the March on Washington for Freedom and Jobs on August 28, 1963 

http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/mlkihaveadream.htm

“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 segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.”

Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends.

And 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 men are created equal.”

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners 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 judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today!

The Drum Major Instinct” February, 4 1968

http://mlk-kpp01.stanford.edu/index.php/encyclopedia/documentsentry/doc_the_drum_major_instinct/

“If any of you are around when I have to meet my day, I don’t want a long funeral. And if you get somebody to deliver the eulogy, tell them not to talk too long. (Yes) And every now and then I wonder what I want them to say. Tell them not to mention that I have a Nobel Peace Prize—that isn’t important. Tell them not to mention that I have three or four hundred other awards—that’s not important. Tell them not to mention where I went to school. (Yes)

I’d like somebody to mention that day that Martin Luther King, Jr., tried to give his life serving others. (Yes)

I’d like for somebody to say that day that Martin Luther King, Jr., tried to love somebody.

I want you to say that day that I tried to be right on the war question. (Amen)

I want you to be able to say that day that I did try to feed the hungry. (Yes)

And I want you to be able to say that day that I did try in my life to clothe those who were naked. (Yes)

I want you to say on that day that I did try in my life to visit those who were in prison. (Lord)

I want you to say that I tried to love and serve humanity. (Yes)

Yes, if you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice. (Amen) Say that I was a drum major for peace. (Yes) I was a drum major for righteousness. And all of the other shallow things will not matter. (Yes) I won’t have any money to leave behind. I won’t have the fine and luxurious things of life to leave behind. But I just want to leave a committed life behind. (Amen) And that’s all I want to say.

If I can help somebody as I pass along,

If I can cheer somebody with a word or song,

If I can show somebody he’s traveling wrong,

Then my living will not be in vain.

If I can do my duty as a Christian ought,

If I can bring salvation to a world once wrought,

If I can spread the message as the master taught,

Then my living will not be in vain.

Yes, Jesus, I want to be on your right or your left side, (Yes) not for any selfish reason. I want to be on your right or your left side, not in terms of some political kingdom or ambition. But I just want to be there in love and in justice and in truth and in commitment to others, so that we can make of this old world a new world.

Methodist Student Leadership Conference Address in Lincoln Nebraska in 1964 

http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/mlkmethodistyouthconference.htm

 “Let me say secondly, that we have a Christian responsibility, in this racial crisis, in this revolution, to reaffirm the essential immorality of racial segregation. Now over the last few years, we have had many important legal battles, and all of these battles of been for the purpose of establishing the constitutionality of integration and the unconstitutionality of segregation. It was very important to have these legal battles; very important to have the Supreme court standing up in 1954 saying, “that separate facilities are inherently unequal” — that the old Plessy doctrine of 1896 must go, and that to segregate a child on the basis of his race is to not — to deny that child equal protection of the law.”

Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance Speech in Oslo, Norway on December 10, 1964

http://www.nobelprize.org/mediaplayer/index.php?id=1853

 “Civilization and violence are antithetical concepts. … Nonviolence is not sterile passivity, but a powerful moral force which makes for social transformation. Sooner or later, all the peoples of the world will have to discover a way to live together in peace, and thereby transform this pending cosmic elegy into a creative psalm of brotherhood.”

“I refuse to accept despair as a final response to the ambiguities of history. … I refuse to accept the idea that man is mere flotsam and jetsam in the river of life unable to influence the unfolding events which surround him. I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality.”

‘Our God is Marching On!’ in Montgomery on March 25, 1965

“They told us we wouldn’t get here. And there were those who said that we would get here only over their dead bodies, but all the world today knows that we are here and that we are standing before the forces of power in the state of Alabama saying, ‘We ain’t going to let nobody turn us around.’”

“I come to say to you this afternoon, however difficult the moment, however frustrating the hour, it will not be long, because ‘truth crushed to earth will rise again.’ How long? Not long, because ‘no lie can live forever.’ … How long? Not long, because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

‘The American Dream at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta on July 4, 1965 

http://mlk-kpp01.stanford.edu/index.php/encyclopedia/documentsentry/doc_the_american_dream/

“About two years ago now, I stood with many of you who stood there in person and all of you who were there in spirit before the Lincoln Memorial in Washington. As I came to the end of my speech there, I tried to tell the nation about a dream I had. I must confess to you this morning that since that sweltering August afternoon in 1963, my dream has often turned into a nightmare.

“I’ve seen my dream shattered as I’ve walked the streets of Chicago and see Negroes, young men and women, with a sense of utter hopelessness because they can’t find any jobs. … I’ve seen my dream shattered as I’ve been through Appalachia, and I’ve seen my white brothers along with Negroes living in poverty. And I’m concerned about white poverty as much as I’m concerned about Negro poverty.”

A Time to Break the Silence at Riverside Church in New York on April 4, 1967: 

http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/mlkatimetobreaksilence.htm

“A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”

“We are taking the black young men who had been crippled by our society and sending them 8,000 miles away to guarantee liberties in Southeast Asia which they had not found in Southwest Georgia and East Harlem. So we have been repeatedly faced with the cruel irony of watching Negro and white boys on TV screens as they kill and die together for a nation that has been unable to seat them together in the same schools.”

Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community’ (King’s last book) published in 1967

“White Americans must recognize that justice for black people cannot be achieved without radical changes in the structure of our society. The comfortable, entrenched, the privileged cannot continue to tremble at the prospect of change of the status quo. … This is a multiracial nation where all groups are dependent on each other. … There is no separate white path to power and fulfillment, short of social disaster, that does not share power with black aspirations for freedom and human dignity.”

I’ve been to the Mountain Top in Memphis on April 3 1968

http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/mlkivebeentothemountaintop.htm

 “Something is happening in our world. The masses of people are rising up. And wherever they are assembled today, whether they are in Johannesburg, South Africa; Nairobi, Kenya; Accra, Ghana; New York City; Atlanta, Georgia; Jackson, Mississippi; or Memphis, Tennessee — the cry is always the same: ‘We want to be free.’ ”

“Now, we are poor people. Individually, we are poor when you compare us with white society in America. We are poor. Never stop and forget that collectively — that means all of us together — collectively we are richer than all the nations of the world, with the exception of nine. Did you ever think about that?”

“We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn’t matter with me now, because I’ve been to the mountaintop. And I don’t mind.”

Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised Land!

And so I’m happy, tonight.

I’m not worried about anything.

I’m not fearing any man!

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord!!

Ring bells, but ignore Sheff!!!

Governor Malloy’s shocking approach to the 50th Anniversary of MLK Jr.’s speech:  Ring Bells, but ignore Sheff. 

In preparation for the 50th Anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech, Governor Malloy’s PR operation has kicked into high gear issuing a press release in which he asks “Residents & Organizations To Ring Bells Wednesday To Commemorate” King’s speech.

But in what is certainly one of the most disturbing developments during his three years in office, Malloy’s effort to “celebrate” one of the most important speeches in American history is directly at odds with his policies —- policies that completely fail to follow Dr. King’s vision what the United States can and must become.

50 years ago tomorrow, Martin Luther King said,

“I have a dream that one day…little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.”

In his historic speech, King laid out the evils of segregation and the fact our nation would never be able to live up to the true meaning of its creed as long as that segregation existed.

And yet here we are – fifty years later and 92 percent of Hartford Connecticut’s public school students are minority with more than 42 percent coming from homes whose primary language is not English.  In fact, Hartford Public Schools provide an education to a student population that speaks more than 70 languages.

But in the face of the incredible racial and ethnic isolation that has become the hallmark of Hartford and Connecticut’s other major urban areas, Governor Malloy has made it clear that he does not support additional efforts to reduce the segregation of our state’s schools.

According to a recent CT Mirror story, Thirty-seven percent of Hartford students attended integrated schools last school year.”

What integration efforts that have taken place in Connecticut are a direct result of the landmark Sheff v. O’Neill law suit that forced the state to develop a variety of voluntary desegregation policies.  It was seventeen years ago that the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled that “the state is responsible for reducing the inequalities caused by the racial isolation of Hartford’s largely black and Hispanic student population.”

That ruling led to a series of benchmarks that were designed to promote integration.

But according to CT Mirror story, last Friday, Governor Malloy said that “the state should not be forced to agree to make changes to increase that percentage further.”

So despite the ruling of the Connecticut Supreme Court…

Despite all the evidence the reveals the importance and benefits of reducing racial isolation…

Despite the fundamental obligation we have to Martin Luther King Jr. and the other freedom fighters that have graced our nation…

Governor Malloy has announced that HE is satisfied with the present level of racial and ethnic isolation in the Constitution State.

In fact, Malloy explained, “Let me be very clear, I don’t think failing to reach a standard is a reason to then raise the standard…I don’t have a problem with the benchmarks as they currently exist. I have a problem when people say, ‘Well you didn’t meet that benchmark, so we are going to raise it.’ That doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.”

It doesn’t make any sense to raise the benchmarks?

It doesn’t make any sense to use our public resources to promote additional voluntary initiatives to reduce racial isolation and promote desegregation?

On that fateful day in Washington D.C. in 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. said;

“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 men, yes, black men as well as white men, 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 color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people 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 segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quick sands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.”

In the face of our nation’s continued failure to fulfill that promissory note, Governor Malloy issues a press release that reads,

“(HARTFORD, CT) – Governor Dannel P. Malloy is asking residents and organizations to ring bells at 3:00 p.m. on Wednesday, August 28, as part of a nationwide commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s renowned “I Have a Dream” speech.

“Dr. King’s message of freedom, equality and liberty resonates as strongly today as it did fifty years ago,” Governor Malloy said.  “Never before has a single speech had such a dramatic and positive impact on our nation.  Let’s honor the message of Dr. King’s speech and the many civil rights, labor and religious organizations that organized to spread his words.  Let’s not take for granted all that they fought so hard for.  Especially now, at a time when some states are pursuing new laws that constrain the fundamental right to vote, we cannot forget that the fight for equal opportunity, equal justice, and an equal voice in our democracy never ends.”

To Malloy, Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor, and the other individuals responsible for Connecticut education policy, such as State Board of Education Chairman Alan Taylor and Hartford Board of Education Chairman Matt Poland, I say shame… shame on you.

As we prepare to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the “I Have A Dream” speech, shame on you Governor Malloy…

And shame on the rest of you policy makers for not standing up to challenge Malloy’s outrageous comments about the need to expand the Sheff initiatives.

Here is the full text of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s speech.  Instead of issuing proclamations about ringing bells, the Governor and his allies would do well to actually read it and appreciate the true meaning of its words.

I Have A Dream Speech:  September 28, 1963

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 years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro 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 men, yes, black men as well as white men, 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 color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people 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 segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quick sands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro 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 Negro 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 the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, 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 the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied, as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating “For Whites Only”. We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. 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 narrow jail cells. 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 police 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 men are created equal.”

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners 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 judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, 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 will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

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 jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day when all of God’s 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 men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, 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!”