January 18, 2010
News & Opinion: The Story of an Old Record
In a sense we've come to our nation's capital to cash a check. 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.Listening to Dr. King's voice coming through the crackles of the record that day, and hearing the voices calling back to him from the crowd, I could almost feel, in the room with me, that arc of history he later spoke of when he said "the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice." Dr. King did as much during his lifetime as anyone to bend that arc, even though his assassination cut his work short and his dream is far from realized. We are still working on it, though—societally and individually—and it is powerful when we get it right. I listen to that record every MLK Day now, and would humbly urge you to listen to any speech of King's today, or pick up a copy of his 1964 book, Why We Can't Wait.
About Dylan Schleicher
Dylan Schleicher has been a part of the 800-CEO-READ claque since 2003. Even though he's stayed on at the company, he has not stayed put. After beginning in shipping & receiving, he joined customer service and accounting before moving into his current, highly elliptical orbit of duties overseeing the ChangeThis and In the Books websites, the company's annual review of books and in-house design. He lives with his wife and two children in the Washington Heights neighborhood on Milwaukee's West Side.