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“No Longer Just A Dream”

Martin Luther King believed that society’s three evils are:

Materialism, Militarism, and Racism. Today, decades later, we could

easily argue that all of them remain among the biggest threats we face:

1) With income inequality, the lack of social mobility and

the lack of a fair shot for all, we see evidence of the darker side of materialism;

2) With events like Russia & ISIS, we see the danger of militarism; 

3) And with Ferguson, Minneapolis, and Houston, we see the lingering poison of racism.

And yet today, Reverend King’s dream lives on and, as the name of this play goes, it is…” “No Longer Just a Dream”

What if Dr. King could take a look, a peek into what happened to his dream? Well, according to prominent physicists, including Einstein and Goddard, time travel, at least mathematically, is possible. We are now in 1964, 56 or so years ago…

“Who are you?” Asks Reverend King.

“Reverend, I am a time traveler assigned to you,” says the time traveler.

“A time traveler?”

“Yes Sir, I have been sent straight from heaven to track the lives of exceptional men like you.”

The Reverend looks at the time traveler with total skepticism.

“I have been following you, sir, all the way, but recent events have changed my task.”

“I don’t have time for this. Now, if you would excuse me!”

Unfazed, the time traveler quickly swipes his hand across and in front of them. Dr. King’s key life events flash in rapid succession. Suddenly, the scrolling of the images slows down and on one particular floating image, Dr. King can watch himself speak to a large crowd in Selma, Alabama, in March of 1965. Dr. King states emphatically: 

“We can do this, we must do this, we will take their power through the vote.”

The image fast forwards again, and now Reverend Kin speaks to an enormous crowd at the footsteps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C: 

“I have a dream… that all men are created equal…” 

The images fast-forward again. In rapid succession, Dr. King is shown receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in Stockholm, Sweden; then standing next to President Johnson in 1964, while he signs the Civil Rights Act; then on August 6, 1965, the Reverend is witnessing the signing of the Voting Rights Act.

“Reverend King, the seeds you’ve planted will have a profound effect in our country. I have been instructed to take you forward in time for you to observe what happened to your dream,” says the time traveler. 

Before the Reverend can react, the time traveler is standing with the Reverend on a barren island outside of what appears to be an abandoned one-story prison made of stone blocks.

“Where are we?”

“Reverend, we are at Robben Island, Sir, it is the Alcatraz Island of Cape Town, South Africa. As you can see and feel, it is bitterly cold, humid, and windy. It is a place damned by immense human suffering, like Devil’s Island in South America’s French Guyana, and Auschwitz in Poland.”

“Why are we here?”

“In this house of oppression, an extraordinary man, following in your footsteps, spent the majority of a 27-year sentence, imprisoned for opposing the racist system of South African segregation…”

“Apartheid?” states a visibly shaken Dr. King, completing the sentence.

“Reverend, let me introduce you to this remarkable South African.”

They are now in 1993, in a place familiar to Dr. King. Overcome by emotion, he witnesses the King of Sweden presenting the Nobel Prize to a tall white-haired man; suddenly, the setting changes and they are now standing inside the South African Congress Building, in the country’s capital of Pretoria.

“Reverend, it is now May 10, 1994, and this great man is addressing the nation as he has just been elected South Africa’s President. Let’s listen to what he is saying.”

“This is a victory for justice, for peace, for human dignity. At last, we have achieved political emancipation. Never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land experiences the oppression of one by another… the sun shall never set on such a glorious human achievement, let the freedom reign, God Bless Africa.”

The Reverend is, at first speechless, then he states, “What a remarkable achievement; the end of Apartheid through a democratically elected member of the oppressed.” He asks, his voice trembling, 

“What is his name?”

“Nelson Mandela.” 

Dr. King is in a trance, shaken to the core as he holds back blissful tears of pride. The image changes again and South Africa’s President Mandela is answering questions from the press.

“The National Rugby Team uniforms should be changed to reflect the colors of the majority in the country,” states a reporter.

“Absolutely not. We will respect and participate in the traditions and preferences of one another. This will not be a witch- hunt. This process is about unity and integration, and not about dominance or oppression or imposing the will of one, some or even many others.” President Mandela replies.

“Reverend, in the future you become famous and revered all over the planet. Your ideas and life struggles resonate all over the world. Testimonials of your life and you are all around us. In the United States alone, there are some 650 streets named after you. Also, there are streets, parks, and monuments dedicated to you in Australia, Austria, France, Germany, India, Israel, Italy, Senegal, South Africa, and Zambia, among others.”

In front of his eyes, the floating screen moves from place to place, showing his name across cities, countries, and continents.

“I wish that I could tell you that I am pleased, but accolades about me are not something I particularly enjoy. I am more interested in what happened with my ideas,” says a visibly uncomfortable Reverend King.

“Well, Dr. King, your ideas and persona have grown significantly over time and Mr. Mandela is a great example of your legacy. But, the definitive crystallization of many of your dreams took place years later when the improbable, the impossible and the unthinkable took place; however, to witness it, we need to move closer to home…

“Reverend, we are now in Chicago at the 2008 Democratic Party National Convention. Here is another remarkable man. An African American Senator launching his political career nationwide. Let’s listen to what he has to say.”

“How long will justice be crucified, and truth be buried? There is no blue or red, black or white, native or Hispanic, liberal or conservative American, there is the United States of America,” states the young Senator. 

The Reverend is visibly impacted by his words. “Who is he?”

“A Harvard graduate, Sir, specialized in constitutional law, son of a Kenyan man and an American woman from the mid-west who was raised in Hawaii and Indonesia. He is married to a Harvard and Yale graduate and they have two daughters,” says the time traveler.

“What is his name?” Asks the Reverend.

“Barack Obama.”

“Reverend, let me take you a bit forward to January 2009, but

let me prepare you, sir, it is going to be emotional, very emotional for you.”

The Reverend sees a familiar image; the D.C. Mall that runs from the Lincoln Memorial through the Washington obelisk all the way to Congress. As with Dr. King’s very own speech at the same place 45 years earlier, there is a huge crowd gathered. He realizes it is a lot bigger crowd than what his was.

“There has to be half-a-million people out there.”

“Actually, the estimates are between three-quarters of a million up to a million, Sir.”

“Why are they all here?”

“Let’s get closer and find out Reverend.”

They are now standing in the footsteps of the US Congress building. They are now facing the crowd, from the opposite end of the mall, which extends all the way to the Lincoln Memorial. The elevated and sizable stage is filled with people. The Reverend does not recognize anyone at first, but picks-up what the ceremony is about right away.

He asks, “Why are we here?”

Then, as Senator Obama stands up and places his hand on Lincoln’s bible, a bolt of emotion overcomes the Reverend, sending chills down his spine. His lower lip trembles, his stare is intense and teary at the same time. He is rendered speechless overcome by the feeling of a tight knot in his throat.

“I, Barack Obama, swear to uphold…”

“Yes, we can… oh Lord, we did it, we did it with the power of the vote,” says a visibly shaken Reverend.

A new image quickly flashes and is familiar to him. With a broad smile and in amazement, the Reverend observes: “So, as Mandela and me, he also received the Nobel Peace Prize.”

Before he can react, they have switched to January 2013, while still standing in the U.S. Congress’ footsteps. The scene repeats itself as the oath of office is being taken. Dr. King realizes that Obama’s hair is now sprinkled with white. He pauses and then it hits him.

“Re-elected?” the Reverend blurts out. “How could that have happened?”

“Well, Reverend, he is a symbol of your success. A more than worthy successor to what you started. Remarkably Sir, he has been elected both times by almost half of the country’s 72% white majority, and by a large percentage of Asians, African Americans, and Hispanics. The whites were the clinchers, they elected him both times, sir,” says the time traveler.

They are now in Cairo, Egypt. President Obama is speaking.

“Let’s listen to his speech, Reverend.”

“For centuries, black people in America suffered the lash of the whip as slaves and the humiliation of segregation. However, it was not violence that won full and equal rights. It was the peaceful and determined insistence upon ideals… a tradition that has stretched from the days of the country’s founding to the civil rights movement, a tradition based on the simple idea that we all have a stake in one another, and that what binds us together is greater than what drives us apart. That if enough people believe in the truth of the proposition and act on it, then, we might not solve every problem, but we can get something meaningful done,” says President Obama.

Dr. King is overwhelmed and yet relieved as he stares into the horizon. His face projects a sense of intense satisfaction, realization, and pride.

“It happened, it really happened,” he says in a trance.

“Well, Sir, to a large degree, yes, but there is still a lot of work to do. Let me show you, Reverend.”

Then the images of the shootings in Orlando, Ferguson, Minneapolis, Houston flash by.

“I see,” says a circumspect Reverend, then he asks, “How did the President react?”

“Let’s go there,” says the time traveler.

“Violence is a dead end. We will extend you a hand if you unclench your fist,” President Obama states.

“We still have a long way to go,” declares Reverend King.

“That is true, Reverend, but your dream is not just that any longer; it is now a reality.”

Erasmus Cromwell-Smith II

June 2020.

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