To me, the most profound part of the famous “I Have a Dream” speech by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. came at the very beginning, and it received little attention:
When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men — yes, Black men as well as white men — would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked insufficient funds.
But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt.
We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so we’ve come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.
This, I think, is one of the most profound lessons that Dr. King taught us and our national collective conscience: talk is cheap, and America needs to live up to her words that “all men were created equal.” America needs to live up to her words that there is “equal protection before the law.” America needs to live up to her words that there is “freedom and justice fore all.”
This is in all aspects of life in America, including in the healthcare space where, sadly, there is a great gap in healthcare equity and equality for Black and Brown Americans. We need to do better to close that gap and ensure all people are given the care that they deserve. Even that sentence is cheap; it is easy for me to write it, much harder to work to make that sentence become reality.
I pledge to do what I can. I pray we, as a field, are successful. Thank you, Dr. King, for all you did to ask America to live up to her glorious words and make them more than just words.