Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Martin Luther King's Dream Seen in New Light MARTIN LUTHER KING DAY

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Martin Luther King's Dream Seen in New Light MARTIN LUTHER KING DAY

Article excerpt

MANY young blacks these days regard Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream of a fully integrated, race-neutral society without enthusiasm.

Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" speech - much heard every year around his birthday - alone no longer captures nearly universal aspirations for blacks in America. Some reclaim their respect for King by looking beyond it for other directions in his thinking.

"He stood for more than that," says Hakim Hilliard, chairman of the Black Law Students Association at Georgetown University Law Center.

At Georgetown, for example, black students marked King's birthday this week by sponsoring a talk comparing him with Malcolm X, a more radical black voice from the 1960s that has surged in popularity in recent years.

And the picture painted by the speaker, cultural historian Tony Browder, stresses less-familiar aspects of the King message - black self-determination and international solidarity.

The exclusive emphasis on King as a nonviolent integrationist is largely perpetuated by whites, he says.

"My own impression is that much of the young black population is ambivalent about Dr. King," says Milton Morris, vice president for research of the Joint Center for Policy Studies, a think tank centered on black concerns.

"If one were to give a speech today about Dr. King's dream, it wouldn't be greeted with much enthusiasm," he says. Ambivalence about integration

King was essentially an integrationist, says Dr. Morris, and "today's black youth is much more ambivalent about integration." Instead, concern runs higher about establishing black identity and respect for black culture on its own terms.

Shelby Steele, a controversial black writer who opposes race-based policy and race-based views of culture, says that if King gave his famous speech today, "I think that would get King in the same kind of trouble I'm in. People would say, 'You're naive. Americans are racist and they'll always be racist."

King is still seen by young blacks as a modern hero, says Dr. Steele, who teaches English at California State University at San Jose, but different parts of King's message are stressed these days. …

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