Political Science professor, Donald Douglas opened the new school year at Long Beach Community College with Abraham Lincoln and the Gettysburg Address. Many of his students have not visited the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., so Douglas showed them his own personal photos and shared how he feels each time he stands before that deeply moving tribute to one of our greatest presidents.
And then I remind students that Martin Luther King, Jr., gave his “I Have a Dream” speech from the steps of the Memorial. And if you visit, make sure to look for the inscription at the top of the steps, where it says that MLK delivered his speech from that very spot, August 28th, 1963. And I recite for my students how Dr. King challenged the country to “live out the true meaning of its creed, that all men are created equal.”
And I draw the line of liberty back from Dr. King to Abraham Lincoln to Thomas Jefferson, and I remind folks that while this nation was indeed founded in crisis — the crisis of slavery — our greatness lies in our charter documents, pieces of parchment holding the political philosophy that pushes Americans to a higher moral standard, a template of universal goodness, one that still shines bright in the world.
And we as citizens can’t just stand on the sidelines hoping that the American democracy will continue, but that we have an obligation to ourselves and our fellow citizens to continue the work of our forefathers, to continue to ensure that democracy “shall not perish from the earth.”