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Where is the Promise Land?

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Where is the Promise Land? The land where everyone is considered equal in the eyes of everyone, as we are considered in the eyes of God? Where is the promise land, where everyone’s opinion is considered valid? Where is the promise land where black, white, Asian, Hispanic, and everything in-between are all considered equal? Where special education is not over represented by African Americans? The land where our troops do not come back from war to discover that they are homeless? The land where in any state a person cannot be pulled over for looking like an illegal immigrant? A land where a woman’s right to choose has gone out of control. Where is the promise land?

Did you know that the highest percentage of black students at an Ivy League college is ONLY 7.2 percent? Did you also know that the black student graduation rate is 43 percent for college overall? This is not part of the dream that Martin Luther King Jr. desired. This is a fact because Dr. King once said, “Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” This means that there is nothing that is more hazardous that an uneducated man or woman. So if we are all going to get an education, don’t you think that we should get the best? This would really trouble Dr. King because he fought for black men and women to have the ability to go to school and get a proper education. Forty- three percent is not even half. If we have made so much progress by electing a black president, why haven’t the numbers for the amount of our boys and girls who become doctors and lawyers? Forty-three percent is not enough. We need to work harder as a nation. I am not saying that electing a black president was not a major leap for us. What I am saying is that we still have much further to go before we reach the promise land.

An additional item in education that is not a part of Dr. King’s dream to get us to the promise land is the over representation of black males in special education. Did you know that in 17 states the graduation rate for black male students is lower than 50 percent? In 20 states the graduation rate for black males is between 50 to 59 percent. The ten lowest school districts for black males are: Pinellas County, Florida; Richmond County, Georgia; Norfolk County, Virginia; Baltimore City, Maryland; New York City, New York; Rochester, New York; Buffalo, New York; Detroit, Michigan; Indianapolis, Indiana; and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In the 2009/2010 school year the achievement gap between white and black students here in New Jersey was nineteen percent. The saddest part of this all is that we are considered the highest performing state when it comes to our black male students. In total N.J.’s 2009/2010 graduation rate for black males was 74 percent, while the graduation rate for white males was 92 percent. In the United States of America 47 percent of black students graduate High school, 57 percent of Latino students graduate, and 75 percent of white students graduate High School. This is not the promise land.


If that is not the promise land, is the promise land a land where men and women who have worked hard to defend our country from people who meant us harm come home to discover that they no longer have a home? They now have no where to go! Some who have lost arms and legs fighting for our country to remain disabled? Some of them have mental disabilities because of the things that they have seen in combat while fighting for our freedom. Some of them were captured and held captive because they were ambushed while fighting for us. Ladies and gentlemen, can we honestly sit here and simply watch this happen? Some of these men and women have families to support- little boys and girls. Some are husbands with wives, wives with husbands, mothers with children living in cars or anything else that they find, because they wanted to fight for their country? There are starving children, mothers, and fathers and all for our sakes. Please ladies and gentlemen, as Martin Luther King Jr. once said “Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be, until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality.” This means that if we continue to ignore the plight of returning troops, this would increase our homeless numbers which would then decrease our economy even further, because we are not making any new jobs available for our troops. By this quote Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. meant that whatever a man sews he shall reap. Ladies and gentlemen, I urge you to think about this as you leave the building.

Racism has not gone away; it has just simply taken on a new form. Instead of being upfront with it, it is now being disguised better than it was in the 1920’s. The new law that has been passed in Arizona is what I would call a very demeaning, belittling, and extremely sickening law. Though this law was enacted to keep illegal immigrants out of America, I do believe that this law is belittling a culture reminiscent of what was done to black people in the 1920’s, and is discreetly done today. Do you know that on April 23, 2010, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed S.B. 1070 into law? The controversial measure requires Arizona police officers to question anyone they reasonably suspect of being an illegal alien, as to their immigration status, and to detain them if they cannot provide proof of their status. This means that if a police official in Arizona sees a man or woman who may look like an illegal immigrant they have the right to pull them over and ask them to provide proof that they are legal. The one question that I have is what does a legal immigrant look like? America is considered a ‘melting pot’ mixed with almost every race, culture, and skin shade. So I ask this question one more time, “What does an illegal immigrant look like. Do they have an accent?” Like Dr. King said, “The time is always right to do what is right.” This is wrong, so please join me and help me in correcting these great injustices right here, right now.

Ladies and Gentlemen, let us correct all of the injustices discussed this morning. How would Martin Luther King, Jr. feel about the Dream thus far in light of these injustices more than fifty years later? It starts with each and every one of you in this audience. Thank-you for your time, and have a great day.





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