And not just because, as David Kelsey pointed out, Heschel walked to Selma with him.
My roommates and I just sat, in silence, watching a video of the "I have a dream" speech (which I have thoughtfully provided for you). During the speech we sat, making 'agreement head nods' and occasionally interjecting comments, such as when he references Mississippi, saying that the state is still a mess.
Our quasi-ceremonial listening sparked a discussion once we were done. The other roommate grew up going to a lefty Jewish community day school (is there any other kind) where MLK jr day was celebrated as a major holiday every year. She said that as a kid she was routinely moved to tears by the speech. Now, I'm rarely moved to tears by anything, so I found this a fascinating idea. She went on to say that she knows of people who bring the text of the "I have a dream" speech to be read aloud on Passover. Here is where I had an issue. I don't like the idea of equating Jewish slavery in Egypt, from which we feel little to no lasting effects (if it happened), to the immediate and still relevant slavery of African Americans in America. It seems to me that it can only denigrate their experience. The other roommate disagreed. She argued that the use of the speech is to make our freedom holiday relevant, to put it into perspective and to remind ourselves that we do not yet live in a free world, and that our work is by no means complete.
And here, again I'll shift to my current pet issue of wage slavery. African Americans have never been given the chance in this country that other immigrant groups take for granted. They came, often unwillingly, without skills, or chance for social mobility. And then once the Civil War (or War of Northern Aggression) was over, not enough was done to rectify this great wrong, and put the former slaves on an equal playing field. From then on individuals have been able to, with luck, fortitude, and great strength of character, pull themselves up from the gaping maw of poverty, but that is not the norm. Yes, African Americans can vote, but they do so in disproportionately low numbers, they can hold civil service jobs, but again, not according to their proportional representation. We've made great strides on paper, but the inequality of opportunity still exists, and must be addressed. Raising minimum wage was a good first step, but universal healthcare, welfare reform, and educational reform (specifically the cost of college) are all necessary components to ensuring that every child born in this country has a fighting chance to follow their dreams.