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Last Updated: Tuesday, 9 September, 2003, 14:46 GMT 15:46 UK
Has Luther King's dream come true?
Martin Luther King waves to the crowd after making the
Martin Luther King waves to the crowd after making his speech

We discussed the fortieth anniversary of Martin Luther King's 'I have a dream' speech with Roy Innis, the National Chairman of one of America's leading civil rights organisations, the Congress for Racial Equality, and Bishop Joe Aldred, of the Church of God of Prophecy.

It's forty years since Martin Luther King made his inspirational "I have a dream" speech to a quarter of a million people.

Standing on the steps of Washington's Lincoln Memorial, Dr King spoke of his desire to live in a world free of racism.

"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin but by their character."

However, the issues of racism and discrimination are as much in the news today as they were 40 years ago.

Is Martin Luther King's dream any closer to becoming reality? Were you at the Lincoln Memorial in 1963, or did you hear the speech later? What was its impact?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

The following comments reflect the balance of comments we have received:

Next time I am stopped by the police for no reason, I will ask them if they think that their actions are in concordance with the fulfilment of Martin Luther King's dream.
Jeremy Cedenio, UK

While there will always be racism, it's not a serious driving force of politics here
Ray, Arkansas, USA
While there will always be racism, it's not a serious driving force of politics here. Even in Arkansas where the integration of Central High school was a huge issue 50 years ago there is no overt racial tension. It's a psychological fact that people associate more with those who are visually more like them, and that has to be worked on. However, the main force of racism now is counter-racism and the fact that most voices in the US black community are voices of dissent - that's not helping anybody. As for inequality at the political/corporate level, of course there is, but that's a fact of economics and history, not current racism.
Ray, Arkansas, USA

Martin Luther King's dream is just that: a dream. Very little close to becoming a reality than it was when the great man spoke about it in Washington, DC. From the injustice of racial segregation, all ethnic minorities, not just blacks, face the stigma created by quota-based 'positive discrimination' programs- intended to HELP such people. Unfortunately this leads to some whites believing that ethnic minority employees or students only got in because of their race, not their abilities. One African American politician said 'we have to run twice as fast to be considered half as good'. Only when we achieve true equality, not the half-hearted attempt by politicians, will Dr King's dream truly be realised
David Russell, Glasgow, UK

If it's not race it's sex, sexual orientation, religion or nationality. Racism is a symptom of a disease that blinds us to the fact that we are, in a very real sense, all one. When we wake up to the fact that the welfare of the other is our own then racism and other prejudice will seem pointless and silly.
Tom, Canadian in Cholula, Mexico

I really admire how active the US establishment and people have been tackling this
Edward, Leuven
Maybe the dream will eventually come true. But I doubt if it will be in our lifetime. I really admire how active the US establishment and people have been tackling this, though. The starting point is to acknowledge the existence of a problem. In many countries in Western Europe they are still in denial. The establishments try to hide any such incidents as much as possible for fear of embarassment if stories come out. Unfortunately they also don't put in place measures to discourage such acts. As a black student in Belgium I have come to accept reality. That from time to time I'll be prevented from entering some cafés, I'll be followed around in shops and searched to make sure I didn't steal anything and that I'll be stopped by police to check if I'm illegal. Mind you I live in a city considered very liberal, being a student city. So, you can imagine that I don't even bother visiting any of the other cities around because it can only get worse. The saddest thing is that you've no one to turn to. You're always going to be the one at fault
Edward, Leuven

As a black woman living in the u.s. i have to say absolutely not. His dream has not come true, but he has helped us ( the world ) make incredible strides. Good things come to those who wait.
Khia Jackson, Hampton, Virginia

There will always be discrimination & prejudices in the world; However if we can all stand together and promote racial & social tolerance, we are moving a step closer to the good mans dream. In the U.S Hollywood actors, Eddie Murphy, great musicians, Diana Ross, and the likes of General Powell have all eluded the barriers of race. In this country too race can be divisive but people in general are more aware & tolerant despite some negative views! Martin Luther King showed great character - his words & memories & great vision live on!!! Today this is somewhat marred by the negative stigma of illegal immigrants who seem to dominate headlines recently & so add to race disunity due to being linked to crime or deemed to be overloading the social system!!
Oscar, England

What prejudice does exist is based more on economics and class than on actual skin colour
Mike, Atlanta, US
In my opinion, "Racism" as it is commonly used and once existed is for the most part a thing of the past. The exception to this being the fringe radicals of white supremacists and militias. What prejudice does exist is based more on economics and class than on actual skin colour. People wish to be around folks of similar backgrounds, economic class, education levels, etc... Property values, school quality, etc... are the main issue, NOT actual racial superiority. While there are undoubtedly some level of racial overtones, profiling, and stereotyping done with all of this, it is at a significantly lower level than the civil rights era, and is getting lower.
Mike, Atlanta, US

Progress has been made, but I think his "Dream" would not have involved affirmative action. Affirmative action is not reverse racism; it is simply racism. Using racism to "create" equality simply fans the flames of hatred.
Kevin, Boston, MA

An interesting debate. Everyone knows that racism was rife in South Africa under the Apartheid banner for decades, but how many people know that reverse racism is now in operation in South Africa? If you're white you can't get a high-level managerial post; you can't get a university bursary; you can't get bank loans, etc. The world was so concerned about South Africa - now that Apartheid's over, where have the world's concerns for the country gone?
L da Silva, South Africa

Racism is fading out slowly at least in Occident. While religion has always been opposed to racism, religion has now become an obstacle to human progress: rising fundamentalism and hindrance to mixed inter-community marriages. Can we dream of a world free of religious discriminations?
Wendy, France

He had a dream that is still in the making, but the road is long
K. Wikman, Sweden
He had a dream that is still in the making, but the road is long. Perhaps we will not see the end of it for another forty years, or even longer. The issue, I think, is not so much racism in itself as prejudice, which is something that all human beings have. We believe something about something and until proven otherwise, that's the unfortunate way it is. To come to terms with racial differences as well as religious ones, we must attack the core of it; prejudice.
K. Wikman, Sweden

Not entirely, his dream was and still is an overwhelming task, America and the rest of the "civilized world" still lives within a rather unspoken discrimination although the legislations have changed and "equality" is reinforced.
Kays Al-Samarraie, UAE, Sharjah

I was an American 12 year old 40 years ago, living in Europe, and my family and I watched the march on Washington on Dutch TV. We were very excited and swelling with pride. There was another American visiting us as we watched, and he said, nastily, about one of the speakers, "I wonder which part of the communist party he belongs to". We were shocked. My father, a first generation American, born in Norway, said "They have something important to say."

It might be interesting to Europeans to know that here in America, just as black people refer to each other as brother and sister, black and white people sometimes call each other "coz", short for cousin, a Shakespearean term. We want to get along, and we will. Just as most black Americans have white blood and cultural influence, so do many white Americans. As a white American, I can say that our black cousins are part of our cultural heritage, reflected in our speech, our music, our sense of humour. MLK's dream is all our dream! And we will achieve it. Cousins will become will become our brothers and sisters.
Kathrine Beck, Seattle, USA

With time all dreams in that speech will be realised
Denis Saidu, Wisconsin, USA
I believe that the dreams of Martin Luther had been largely fulfilled. It is however a process or an evolution. With time all dreams in that speech will be realised. Rome was not build in a day.
Denis Saidu, Wisconsin, USA

Cosmetic laws have been passed to remove the most egregious manifestations of racism. However, Black folks are still not in charge of their economic future. They are, by necessity, entirely dependent on the largesse of the White-dominated system to survive. From Wall Street to Main Street, Black business power through ownership is negligible. A few, constantly-recycled, servants of the system should not occult this stark reality. Blacks have a very long way to go, still.
Dovi, Boston, USA

Whilst it would be ludicrous to suggest that there is not a serious problem with racism in Europe I find it simply laughable that anyone from the US could compare the situation in that country more favourably than in Britain for example. You only need to spend a short time walking around Washington DC to find a city almost completely racially segregated. The districts which are some of the most dangerous in the US are almost exclusively black - there is no city in Europe I know of which suffers from this degree of segregation.
Jeff, UK

No. Martin's dream has not come true. I marched during those days and we worked very hard to support the "dream". We have miles to go before we sleep. We must not let the fact that the dream has not come true keep us from the dream that is possible - if we care enough for each other and this planet.
Carolyn V Brown, M.D., MPH, Douglas, Alaska USA

A world without racism is possible
Jonas, Finland
To claim that Luther's dream has come true is to exaggerate. However, we are luckily on our way to achieving that dream. A world without racism is possible, although the process is long. As things are today, that dream is far away, but there are many people in this world dedicating their lives to this dream. And that is a beautiful thing.
Jonas, Finland

Working in a middle school, I was asked by a child what racism was. I told her that racism was hatred of people of another race, like white people on black people. The next question, "Why?" was one I couldn't answer.
William Mann, Portsmouth UK

I really think the problem now is religious intolerance, rather than racism. There will always be racism but I don't think it's a very big issue in most countries anymore.
Jack Higgs, Birmingham, UK

Racism was abolished by Islam 1,400 years ago. To date, Muslims are the least racist society on the face of earth. I have great respect for King and other such greats, but little hopes. No amount of effort can remove the plague of racism unless human souls are transformed, a remote possibility outside the purview of Islam.
Jas, India

To Jas, India who claims racism was abolished by Islam: Ask a Pakistani in Saudi Arabia and he will tell you different facets of racism in that Islamic country against others of the same belief. I can hardly believe that you can so blinded by religion.
Tridiv Borah, Dortmund, Germany (Indian)

Black popular culture needs to reflect the reality of my neighbourhood
Ralph Slesinski, Baltimore, US
For the remnants of racism to be totally swept away, black popular culture needs to reflect the reality of my neighbourhood: hard-working black single moms, couples, and traditional families leading solid lives, not the misogynistic, ultra-violent, foul-mouthed miscreants in gold chains toting guns that populate rap videos. There will always be bad apples, but glorifying them is a mistake. The motivation? Good old American greed.
Ralph Slesinski, Baltimore, US

For every incident of racism, I look around me to find more and more cases of racial tolerance in form of mixed race friendships as well as marriages! No one can take us back to the years of aggravated racial intolerance, the political underpinnings behind racial intolerance is more of a factor now rather than the 'hate syndrome' previously associated with racism.
Terna Waya, Hull/UK

I see brother Martin as a philosopher and prophet of our age because ever since he prophesised his message you can see that black and white are coming as one now.
Charles Aniakor, Anambra state, Nigeria

Reverse racism is already causing a backlash, and will increase racism of all kinds
Willis Washington, Boston
Having made much progress, we are now stalling out in progress toward a colour-blind society. Universities are now cheapening the degrees of blacks by holding us to lower standards. Teachers are wary of grading truthfully. Asians and Jews are now finding themselves excluded from universities due to their ethnicity. It is becoming more and more common for bosses, teachers and co-workers to assume (often with good reason) that blacks are in our positions because of our race. Reverse racism is already causing a backlash, and will increase racism of all kinds. Overt racism is getting rare (in fact it hits the news when it happens BECAUSE it's rare), and should no longer be used as an excuse to demand special treatment.
Willis Washington, Boston, Mass

I think in most cases, I could tell if the (American) writers of each of these comments are of the dominant or minority. The tell-tale signs are very common. The members of the majority are not aware of the subtle signs of oppressions that they claim do not exist. They claim that by not recognizing visual indicators or recording statistics that oppression will somehow disappear. The oppression will not go away, only the proof. This is why California's Proposition 54 is so insidious. There will be no way to prove discrimination, so it officially will cease to exist! Racism, sexism and homophobia exist. We will not be free until we are all free.
Mark, Oakland CA USA

The dream is an ideal, so I don't think it will ever be perfectly true in every heart. But, I was waiting for the fireworks this past summer and my downstairs neighbour, who's from Iran, said, "Happy 4th of July." I looked around and to my right was a Sikh family and, in front of me, was an Asian couple speaking Cantonese. I remember thinking at the time about what a great country this is.
Mary Kuchlenz, San Francisco, California

We've still got a long way to go. We're a lot further along than we were in some ways: there are multi-ethnic members of the President's cabinet, and inter-racial relationships are no longer shocking. But police still engage in racial profiling, and politicians (like that Senator from Mississippi who praised Strom Thurmond's racist platform during the 1948 elections) still espouse racist doctrines. The US is not, nor has it ever truly lived up to it's ideal of equality. It is an ideal, a dream, to which we aspire but have yet to attain.
David Bart, Seattle, USA

I had a dream too. However, when I woke up I had to face the reality of America. Politics and greed.
Chris Wikramanayake, USA

I don't think I'll see Dr King's dream in my lifetime
Jackie Rawlings, USA
I saw and heard Dr King's speech when I was 16 years old. We in the USA came closer when we had hope during the Clinton era. But we have moved backward 30 years since Bush took office. I don't think I'll see Dr King's dream in my lifetime. But it will happen!
Jackie Rawlings, USA

A few steps in the right direction but a big leap is still needed to address the problem of poverty which perpetuates division. It is no point saying all men are equal in law and in theory when in practice many in the African-American community are still disadvantaged by reason of the vicious cycle that poverty brings.
Christopher Le, Berkeley/USA

As a black man in America, I must say that I, for one, see Dr King's dream coming true, albeit slowly. I have an interracial marriage and a 19 year old son. When I was his age, living in North Carolina, dating a white girl had to be done surreptitiously. Now, he dates girls of all colours and no one says a thing. Of course, he doesn't do this in Mississippi or Alabama, but Vermont or California. But he can do it if he and they wish it. So, the dream is alive, not perhaps as public as some might want, but it IS alive, and doing very well. The ultimate test will be when we no longer have to ask the question.
Calvin H. Johnson, Ukiah, CA, USA

I saw the light go out of their eyes
Sharon Pelli, Live Oak, CA, USA
I was working at a job corp centre in a rural area of California where approximately 80 young black men were participating in its programme of education and vocational training. Most of them had come from "ghettos" of big cities across America. Many of them had participated in urban riots in Watts and Detroit. When we got word that Martin Luther King had been assassinated, I was with a group of about 20 of those young men. I saw the light go out of their eyes. It was a heart wrenching experience and I will never forget it.
Sharon Pelli, Live Oak, CA, USA

A positive aspect of Americans is they are willing to talk openly about race and the difficulties of race relations - something lacking in many of the countries I've lived in. Individual Americans are willing to learn about and understand other cultures (subject to and despite of their distorted media and press). I wouldn't say the US is the least racist country in the world - the UK, New Zealand and especially Canada are less racist - but they are much, much more tolerant than they are given credit for.
M. M. Zaman, UK in US

The best that can be hoped for is anti-racist legislation. ALL races are racist, it is not, as some people think, the preserve of white people, just think of Rwanda or East Timor. You can not stop people being racist, but you can protect them from the effects and limit the exposure to racist material. King's dream is just that, a dream. People have always been racist, wherever they're from, that, unfortunately is part of a lot of people's human nature just like selfishness, criminality and dishonesty.
Graeme, England

Racism will always be present in some manner
Eric, Montreal, Canada
Is racism extinct? That is a very interesting question because it never will be. Every time we generalize people by saying Canadians, Americans, Europeans, South Africans, whites, blacks, we are in fact guilty of racism. It is part of human nature to generalise people into categories and to generalize their behaviours. The true danger is in judging and stereotyping the INDIVIDUAL person. Racism will always be present in some manner, it is up to us to make sure how present it is and how we personally deal with it.
Eric, Montreal, Canada

Dr King set a high bar for the heirs of his ideals, and we are still struggling to meet it. America, for one, has come a long way, and advocates of civil rights deserve to be proud of what they've accomplished. But the work isn't complete, and it won't be until everyone has the same shot at success, and people of all races are judged "not by the colour of [our] skin, but by the content of [our] character." Everyone bears a responsibility in this, and it will be a long time before we truly reach that goal. But it's not just the destination that's important -- it's the journey.
Kathy, New York, NY

As a southerner, I have to personally live with the fact that many still in the south see things in black and white. But, I feel that with each new generation here, we are making progress and many no longer judge people because of their skin. Perhaps my children or grand-children will make Dr. King's dream of overcoming true, I hope and pray for that day.
Nathanial, KY, USA

I believe that racism is still practised in many cities in America. That there are a large number of homeless black people. That they still are the lowest paid apart from women. Hasn't racism spilled over into the ordinary middle-eastern resident's life?
Irene Kennedy, Wellington New Zealand

We are about halfway to the dream
Patrick, Detroit, MI
We are about halfway to the dream. It will be a while before the people in the US will get adjusted to colour-blind views. I feel bad for France and England, since they have no real experience in dealing with such a diverse population, like America. They are going through an era of immigration and racial tensions that the US went through a century ago.
Patrick, Detroit, MI

I don't think Patrick, Detroit, MI has any idea of what modern Europe is about. There has been at least as much immigration and inter-mixing throughout Europe over the centuries as there has been in America. The population of any given European country has its roots all over the western world, Mediterranean and N.Africa. Their colonial past has provided an endless source of new people who have established themselves in Europe. It didn't take race riots, and anti-segregation protests to end the colour bar here, as there never was one. America may have started to end Apartheid in the 60s, it never exisited in Europe.
Jeff, UK

A lot of good has happened in the last 40 years. Centuries of racism won't be reversed overnight, so people have to get real. I object to the criticisms of continuing "segregation" in America. Did it ever occur to anyone that people voluntarily segregate themselves from time to time because being with your own race is the most natural thing to do? There's nothing wrong with that as long as you treat other races with respect.
Tom, Chicago, USA

I've worked in equal opportunity for over 20 years and the progress that has been made is outstanding. There is absolutely no comparison between today's racial climate and the one that existed when Dr. King made his speech.
Michael, Phoenix USA

No, I do not think so. A large part of the black community have become a tool for US colonial war in the world.
Karl Halmstrand, Sweden

Proof that Martin Luther King's dream did not come true is seen on simple, everyday things...such as a questionnaire or a job application. Where it asks the question, "What is your race?", there are usually several options- Caucasian, African American, Asian, etc. If Martin Luther King's dream came true, the only option to answer that question would be "human". We are all of human race.

If you've never personally experienced racism, of course you don't think it's a problem
Zena, Oakland, CA, USA
I love how the people who most often deny that racism against people of colour exists are white. If you've never personally experienced racism, of course you don't think it's a problem. As a black child growing up in America, I didn't go looking for racism - it found me the first time a white peer rejected me because of my skin colour. And it stalked me whenever I couldn't get a cab (but a white woman could) or was followed around in a store as if I was a thief. Racism will always exist as long as people deny that in their hearts they do judge people on appearances. The evidence is everywhere - multiple studies have proven discrimination against people of colour in housing, health care, criminal justice, employment and many other arenas. Just look it up! Once we acknowledge racism and fight it wherever it rears its evil head, then we can honestly say that King's dream is possible.
Zena, Oakland, CA, USA

Sadly I would have to say we are still a long way away from the Dream. There are still too many people with very racist views still in the seats of power. Until these people can be removed and replaced by more Open minded leaders we will be waiting for a VERY long time for a world were all people can honestly say they are Equals.
Glenn, Ontario, Canada

Yes, racial equality is nearer although there are worries when you look on the TV and see violent riots inspired by US police brutality on blacks. Clearly there is some way to go . I believe larger problems exist elsewhere in terms of language and beliefs. In Europe language is the largest barrier to racial harmony and even expressing discontent is difficult if you don't speak the language. However, that is a minor issue compared to beliefs, I feel the 9/11 has done great harm to the tolerance many had for one another, especially against Islamists. My perception of the US is of a stiff-necked Christian community and of course this is going to cause a clash of culture. It is this part of equality we now have to work on - the respecting of each others beliefs.
Mark, Spain

There is far less racism in America than in Europe and the middle east
Saffar, USA
As an Iranian American who spent many years in Iran and visited Europe I have to say there is far less racism in America than in Europe and the middle east. For example as a first generation American I am accepted as an American in every sense while in Europe people with ethnicities other than the majority don't get the same treatment, even though they have lived in those countries for generations. So in my opinion there is no room for criticizing the US in this issue if you live in Europe.
Saffar, USA

The idea of a dream that all races live as one was the heart of his speech. But, the idea of separate but equal is more common. Not so much by the government, but by the different ethnic groups in the country. It is hard for blacks to live in Little Italy in New York without being harassed as an example. I live in Los Angeles and I am glad I do. We are so diverse in our culture and ethnic breakdown. I can go and get a Mexican breakfast, Southern cuisine for lunch, and Japanese dinner. Living in an area is more through choice and how much you can afford. While Los Angeles is not perfect, it is an interesting place to live.
Russ B, USA

The speech by Dr Martin Luther King is one of the most important speeches ever given on the issue of human interaction. He said "I have a dream that one day people shall be judged not by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character" these words are the standard that people all around the world, especially America, must strive to reach if we are to live in a just and peaceful world.
Behzad, Washington DC

Though Martin Luther King's dream may not have been fully realised yet, I would say from personal experience that the racism situation in USA is much better than Europe. Americans are largely fair in their approach and almost everyone who can prove themselves in this country is rewarded appropriately. It is a little bit of a struggle to get to through that first barrier of proving yourself, but, once proven, the sky is the limit in this land of opportunity. Skin colour will always be an issue in any country if the colour is not the same, for better or worse.
Chandru , California, USA

On the surface, yes, Dr King's dream has come true. In public, most white Americans will say they have nothing against minorities, but when one talks to them in private, certain prejudices come out. For example, Mexicans in the US often take jobs involving physical labour, and are often slow to learn English. As such, many see them as dumb and lower-class.
King changed our language but not our hearts
Jason Konik, USA/Poland
Dr King changed our language and behaviour, but not our hearts. Racism is as big a problem as ever, but now, because of the civil rights movement, it is under the surface, festering.
Jason Konik, USA/Poland

Martin Luther King's dream will not come true until the American society stops categorizing people; African American, Native American, Caucasian, Hispanic, Arabian.. no other country is as hysterical when it comes to labelling people. No wonder there is so much racism, when you can't just let people be people.
Kerstin Carlsson, Sweden

Has his dream come true? I have to disagree, it has not. A couple of years ago before Sept. 11 I would have said yes. But afterwards, there has been a great deterioration of human, and civil rights in the U.S. Muslims are being targeted, racially profiled, and in some cases attacked and murdered. The world unfortunately is still racist.
Usman, USA

For each anecdote of an African American in a high position, there are countless other stories of crushing struggles and shattered hopes
Sharon, USA
After many centuries of slavery in the new world, black people have come a long way in a relatively short period of time. Yet for each anecdote of an African American in a high position, there are countless other stories of crushing struggles and shattered hopes. Most blacks are not mentored in professions and are still held back by the "glass ceiling." Blacks are still paid less for doing the same work as whites. The education of blacks is clearly substandard. In general, blacks and whites don't have much to do with each other in the US. Saddest of all is that no one wants to talk about it.
Sharon, USA

There is still racism in the world today, but I don't think it's going to improve until we re-evaluate what we think racism is. I don't believe for the most part it is a race feeling they are superior to all other races, as was once the case. Instead, it has become political. I don't feel I'm better than anyone else, but as a white male I'm constantly bombarded with "reverse" racism. I've seen minorities establish events and refuse to allow whites to attend. I've listened as performers make fun of everything from the way white people dance to the way they speak. Until we get passed this acceptance of racism by any group that's not white, while claiming any white person who disagrees with a minority is a racist, we as a people won't be able to move forward.
Chris, USA

Since I do not live in the US I cannot comment on life there. But here in Canada there seems to be no problems caused apart from what the Europeans bring from the east. It seems that the Europeans who live here are the ones who brining small pockets of racism within their communities, mainly Italians, Yugoslavians, Romanians or Russians. So maybe here in the west, racism may have seceded but Europeans who always claim to be superior and more progressive should look at their own back yard.
James, Canada

Dr. King's dream is coming true slowly and gradually
Michael Heykal, Texas, U.S
I think Dr. King's dream is coming true slowly and gradually. As a black man and a student at a university, I think the black community have achieved a lot in the last forty years; their will come a day when all the Americans no matter what their race is will be working together in peace and harmony. Today in this modern world there is racism, not only amongst the white community but also in the black community. Slowly and gradually we a coming out of the dark ages of bigotry and racism.
Michael Heykal, Texas, U.S

Racism and discrimination still exist everywhere in the world. Dr King was a pioneer, but don't just dream of a nation, dream of a world where our character is what defines us all.
James, Australia

Martin Luther King's dream will always be that, a dream. We as human beings are a hating group. I mean in the UK Asians and blacks were abused racially but then it stopped and the whole nation now turns itself on to refugees blaming them for everything that's going wrong with this country. We seem to have the need to shift blame onto someone else, and the easy answer is blame it on someone who is different.
Sanjaya, UK

I live in the most racist City in the US (Richmond was the Capital of the Confederacy) and in one of the most conservative southern states in the US. And I still believe that racism has declined by leaps and bounds. We have had a black governor, many on our city council are black, many of the police officers are black, our city planner is black. I think most of the racism that exists today is in rural America with dumb rednecks.
Tristan, Richmond Va., USA

I feel that racism is inherent in every culture
Hamza Sheikh, USA
What do you see when you first meet a person? The most striking identification is certainly the gender, and then skin colour. This is natural but we have emphasized these characteristics so much over the years that we still haven't untangled ourselves from it. I feel that racism is inherent in every culture, to lift oneself by degrading others. Until that changes Mr. King's dream will still be a dream.
Hamza Sheikh, USA

As a white man I do not want or expect there to be any barrier to anything people want to do in life other than their own capabilities. But I am not responsible for the injustices committed by previous generations nor am I prepared to pay for them financially or through pro minority policies. There is no such thing as positive discrimination - all discrimination is wrong. In return for equal rights all sectors of society should lose the chip of historical victimisation from their shoulders.
Mike, UK

Racism is immoral whatever its form. The selfish man suffers more from his own selfish more than the one it is intended for.
LAWRENCE, Nederlands

Racism is gradually reducing in gravity. But it will not in a significant way until the so called 'western world' stop propelling that only what exists among them is real. And that the rest of the world must live through their own eyes.
REX-O, Nigeria

Why does America have over half of their prison population of 2million people of colour in 2003? Why are so many thousand young African-American and Hispanic males either in jail or on probation or parole instead of working? What is the purpose of the Patriot Act if not to curtail the rights and civil liberties of the weak and vulnerable in American society? More work needs to be done to achieve more of the Dream. A few individual blacks may have achieved their dreams, the overall majority are still struggling with the hegemonic police state of Republican America today.
Ednelo, USA/Nigeria

Racism might have gone underground but it is still alive in the land of the free
Amy, USA
Sadly, Dr King's notorious "dream" remains just that, a dream. As a Caucasian woman married to an African, I have seen first hand the subtle injustices and disturbing discriminatory attitudes and policies directed against the black man. All you have to do is read a report here and there about a modern day lynching of a black man by white supremists or about a high school that, until recently, held segregated proms to prevent its white student population from becoming tainted, or from mixing, with the culture of the black students.

Unfortunately, it is largely the colour of a man's skin which determines his value and potential for success in American society. I suspect this attitude is present elsewhere, as well, but it is a pervasive force in a white hegemonic culture such as ours. Racism might have gone underground but it is still alive in the land of the free and is often masked by so-called political correctness. I, too, have a dream that one day biracial children, like my beautiful daughter, will become the majority, a branch on every family tree in America. Until that day, I fear there will still be intolerance and prejudice towards people of colour the world over.
Amy, US

Dear Amy, US: It's all very good when you rightfully complain about racism. However, how come it is not a racist comment when you say "I, too, have a dream that one day biracial children, like my beautiful daughter, will become the majority...". Would it be racist if I said "I wish white people like my beautiful son will always be majority" ?
Mustafa Yorumcu, UK/Turkey

I take issue with Amy from the US, the guy who runs the biggest American company on earth (GE) is an Afro American who began his career at the company as a janitor. Then there is Colin Powell; in the top ten earners in America's legal profession four are of Afro American roots... etc. Treating all whites with the same brush is fuelling resentment. I think, slowly but surely Dr King's remarkable words are coming to pass. These things do take time. Please think and try to see the positive advances before you trot out the same negative/no hope line because you do the positive movement harm.
Roger, England

Many see doing well in school as simply not part of their culture
Matt, US
Young black men still don't seem to be climbing out of the inner-city rut of poverty and crime as fast as young Hispanics and Asians. Does this stem from racism? It's more complicated than that. Many inner-city black youths see doing well in school, going to university, and having a career as simply not part of their culture. These are "white" things, and if you follow that path, you are "selling out" and leaving your culture and your community behind. Will this phase pass in a few generations? I don't know.
Matt, US

I turn on the TV and see black shows, actors, commercials... I watch the news, I see black officials. I'd say yes his dream has come true to a large extent. The racism you all are talking about, everyone is suffering from. Hey how would you like to be a "Seyed Mohammad Saeed"? I bet you can't even buy an airplane ticket! You want be arrested in the middle of a shopping centre? Start speaking Arabic. Come on folks discrimination against black people is fading away. Now it is time to discriminate against middle eastern. And guess what? They don't even have a MLK, because they don't live in America. Where they live they get killed before they even attempt to make a speech.
Sami, USA

No, it has not. In fact, we have just the opposite of King's dream. Public institutions regularly hire according to a racial quota and our public universities also routinely base their admissions on skin colour. This is hardly judging people by their character.
Jeff, USA

Although enforced segregation is illegal within the US, that doesn't mean that it isn't still happening
Jan Beardall, UK
When visiting Tulsa, Oklahoma, I happened upon a bar full of black people. This surprised me initially as I'd seen few black faces in Tulsa up until then. I was welcome to drink in the bar (the only white face in there) and without intimidation.

When I asked someone inside why all the other bars I'd been in (even in the same area) were full of white people only and then there was this bar - suggesting a policy of segregation. I was told that black people in Tulsa did not feel comfortable in the presence of whites, because they were regularly victims of physical and verbal abuse in such instances. This is an example of how, although enforced segregation is illegal within the US, that doesn't mean that it isn't still happening.
Jan Beardall, UK

So far it seems that we're only focusing on those of African descent. Dr King's speech applied to ALL races. African-American (African), Hispanic, Asian, Native American and yes, Caucasian. I think we're starting to get the idea, and we're on the way to fulfilling his dream, but we won't get there until everyone's skin colour is forgotten altogether.
Christine, US

Martin Luther King is surely one of the great leaders of our time. Sadly there are not many people 'big' enough to do justice to 'I have a dream' or 'Ich bin ein Berliner' or even 'Never in the field...' All these people were great, they made the speeches great, not the other way round.
Simon Mallett, UK

Today is the first time I have read Dr King's speech, and I can only shake my head and ask why are such good men always shot down. I pray his dream will come to be one day soon.
Margaret, Scotland

Judging by Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice, Dr King's dream is much closer to reality
Pete Comas, NYC
I was not alive in 1963, but judging by the success of men like Colin Powell and women like Condoleezza Rice, it seems that Dr King's dream is much closer to reality than it has been in the past. If only all disaffected and disenfranchised people could see the wisdom of passive resistance, perhaps regions like the Middle East, Sri Lanka, Ulster, and countless other places could achieve just and equitable settlements. Violent demonstrations bring nothing but the promise of violent reprisals. True martyrs suffer with dignity and do not blow themselves up along with scores of innocent civilians.
Pete Comas, NYC

Martin Luther King's dream has come true to some extent but there is still a great deal to be achieved. Racism and injustice towards ethnic minorities still exists and not just in the US. It is a problem all around the world. We have started on the path towards his dream but there is still a long way to go
Tryphena, UK

Nearly! Segregation and racism was outlawed in 1976 - over the next 20 years we have become a more tolerable society - treating people as personalities and not by the colour of their skin. However today we have the opposite happening in places of divide such as Wrexham and Burnley and now we must learn to embrace and live in peace!
Allan Dade, England

Progress on the racial front has been nothing short of spectacular since his speech
Lawrence, USA
By and large, Dr King's dream has come to fruition. Progress on the racial front has been nothing short of spectacular since his speech, despite rhetoric to the contrary. I encourage all visitors to the US to ask black Americans if racism is a major obstacle in their lives. Almost invariably, you'll find that American immigrants from Africa - those whom you'd believe to be most affected by racism - say racism is almost non-existent. It is only those native-born African-Americans who have been raised in a culture of victimization who still hold that racism is a serious impediment to their ability to lead a happy and successful life in America. Is everything perfect? No. But we should appreciate and celebrate the incredible progress we've made, and continue to make, trying to create a society based on character, not colour.
Lawrence, USA

I'm not in the US, so can't comment for life on the streets. One thing hip hop, and rap in particular (and I speak as a lover of that music) has given to people worldwide, not just to middle class whites, is an understanding of the exploitation in America which is not simply racially based. Yes, black people can "make it" in the US but there is still a deep rooted down-trodden class in America, restricted to "projects/ghettos" where drugs and related violent crime have turned black on black, and from the oppressors point of view (whoever the "oppressor" is) this has achieved divide and rule, whereas MLK achieved change through peaceful unity. With the male ego so dominant in rap culture, dissing brothers and sisters of all races, MLK must turn in his grave at the thought of what it brings to the progression of civil rights in America (but it is still infectiously good music).
Rob UK, UK

The speech gave momentum to the freedom movement in Africa. Unfortunately, I don't think his dream is close to becoming a reality, especially in his land, the US. Though segregation has been abolished, black people in America still suffer from racial discrimination. Most of them still are destitute, with the lowest per capita income and average life expectancy of any ethnic group in the states. But things are changing slowly, and I hope one day in the not so far future, King's dream may come true.
Oumer, Ethiopia/Denmark


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