August 28, 2008

Hold them accountable

Charles Blow writes:

On the eve of Barack Obama’s acceptance speech this evening, comparisons between him and Martin Luther King Jr. are flying fast, particularly since King gave his “I Have a Dream” speech 45 years ago to the day. I ’ve heard more than one person say that Obama is the manifestation of King’s dream, because had King lived, he would have been elected president himself. What? President Martin Luther King Jr.? In your dreams.

King is a towering figure in American history, and his struggle helped to make Obama’s journey possible. But his steadfast and uncompromising focus on improving the plight of blacks rendered him too polarizing a figure to win the presidency (there’s also no reason to believe that he would have wanted it).

It turns out that a year before King was assassinated, Gallup asked Americans if they would like him to be president. Only two percent said yes.

(An interesting point of reference: according to the 1960 Census, blacks made up 8 percent of the population.)

But King didn’t need to be president. His position in the annals of history is above that of most presidents anyway. In many ways he stood above politics.

During the primaries, when answering the question “If Dr. King were alive today, why do you think he’d endorse you?” Obama responded: “I don’t think Dr. King would endorse any of us. I think that what he would call upon the American people to do, is to hold us accountable.” That’s right.

It's best to hear the speech (below) but you can also read the transcript, if you so please.

And here is an interesting article about the mood the day before. Time for Obama's speech soon.. I can't wait!

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