I've always been fascinated by the 60's as an historical subject, which is troublesome since they never seemed to get to it when I was in school. Maybe it wasn't historical enough. I think the saddest thing about the time was that our heroes kept being killed.
Still, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have A Dream" speech remains something incredible every time I hear it. If you look at the unfortunate cultural realities of the time, something I only truly understood by way of people in my grandparents' generation (not in a good way), King's words border on ridiculous. But the sincerity and intense tone of his words made it feel like anything was possible, and there were a quarter-million people there who believed his dream was possible.
I'm not shy about declaring that I've worked my ass off to be where I am today, but I'm also realistic enough to understand that I've had far fewer barriers than others, as a white, middle-class, heterosexual and vaguely Christian man. It's not lost on me that our nation's history is filled with a lot of hate and inequality.
We've come a long way, but I suspect it will take several generations for things to really balance out. Race, gender, religion and sexual orientation are still the basis for more social injustice than there should be. It seems like the biggest front at the moment is around same-sex couple rights, but women and minorities still don't get a fair shake. I don't know what the solutions are to these problems.
Dr. King is an inspiration today, and I can only imagine what it was like to stand with him. The world desperately needs people like him today, and it's disappointing that we don't have that kind of transformational leadership. I want so much to see someone stand up the way he did. In the mean time, I suppose the best we can do as individuals is create positive change at any scale possible. A lot of smaller dreams could go a long way.