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President Obama still chasing King’s dream

Earl Ofari Hutchinson | 9/4/2013, 11:03 a.m.

King’s special concern was poverty and how it had divided the country into two Americas: one wealthy, prosperous and in total control of the nation’s wealth and resources and one poor, desperate and disproportionately minority.

President Obama has taken much heat from black critics for not forcefully addressing the needs of that America, and more importantly, as the critics claim, not taking stronger, more direct steps to alleviate that America’s suffering.

King almost certainly would have been careful not to lambast Obama for the poverty of millions or suggest that the president’s policies had anything to do with that poverty. This would have just played into the hands of the arch-enemies of both Obama and of greater civil rights protections and the end of income inequality.

But King almost certainly would have been in the streets marching for economic justice. King’s willingness to do this not only made him persona non grata at the White House, but also put much distance between him and the established civil rights organizations of that day.

Obama has publicly bristled at the notion that the Civil Rights Movement is outdated, or worse, that he somehow supplants the ongoing work of civil rights leaders. He has repeatedly praised past civil rights leaders for their heroic battle against racial injustice. He did it again in his official march commemoration proclamation.

But by not making any mention of King’s dream of a color-free and economic-justice-assured nation, Obama conceded the obvious. That he and America are still chasing the dream King had a half-century ago.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst.