Extending the Reach of King's Dream; Freedom Still Lacks for School Choice Aspirants, Nonviolent Offenders
Byline: Rand Paul, Special to The Washington Times
This week, we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and Martin Luther King Jr.'s I Have a Dream speech. King's speech ranks alongside the Declaration of Independence and Emancipation Proclamation as one of the most important expressions of American values and aspirations in our history. The marchers and activists of that era battled unspeakable odds to turn the nation's eyes toward the plight of blacks in America. King reminded us then, and reminds us today, of the power of civil disobedience - in changing minds, changing hearts and, ultimately, changing the law.
There will always be the laws of men. But King showed us that there is sometimes a higher calling, a duty to one's nation and God that requires resisting conventional standards or laws. In his letter from a Birmingham jail, King wrote:
There is nothing new about this kind of civil disobedience. It was evidenced sublimely in the refusal of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego to obey the laws of Nebuchadnezzar, on the ground that a higher moral law was at stake. It was practiced superbly by the early Christians, who were willing to face hungry lions and the excruciating pain of chopping blocks rather than submit to certain unjust laws of the Roman Empire. To a degree, academic freedom is a reality today because Socrates practiced civil disobedience. In our own nation, the Boston Tea Party represented a massive act of civil disobedience.
Many in the political establishment considered King an agitator and rabble rouser, and some even considered him akin to a terrorist. The government spied on him. Agents wiretapped his phone. We do not have to imagine what kind of treatment a figure like King would receive from a government that thought it could deny constitutional protections to its citizens, because he already lived it. Unfortunately, countless black Americans of his generation lived it.
When one sees an injustice so great, he must make a choice - to continue tolerating the injustice or make sacrifices in the name of stopping it. Thankfully for us, King chose the path less traveled.
It is simply unimaginable to think of what kind of America we might be living in today if not for his courage and triumph.
King's dream of racial equality has come a long way, but inequalities still exist that can't be ignored. Too many Americans are trapped in a public education system that does not do our children justice. We have a system in which politicians and bureaucrats have too much control, parents have too little, and students' needs are not being met. Our children have so much potential, but their natural skills and talents are often ignored. Their true potential is not being realized.
Everywhere it is tried, school choice has allowed parents to give their children the education they deserve. Voucher and charter school programs that allow public education dollars to follow the student are greatly improving their performance and giving children so many