Niki Tshibaka: A better way to commemorate 60th anniversary of Dr. King’s dream

Martin Luther King, Jr. Photo credit: Jack Lewis Hiller, National Portrait Gallery.


This week, we commemorate the 60th anniversary of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

There is a timeless power to Dr. King’s speech, a power that transcends his soaring oratory and rhetorical flair. His speech continues to challenge and inspire us because it is “deeply rooted” in the dream that birthed our nation.

That dream was conceived in a Declaration of Independence that set forth certain unassailable truths and “unalienable rights.” We have struggled to fully realize the dream ever since. 

The Reconstruction Era witnessed the passing of the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments, making significant advancements in the cause of freedom and racial justice. During that period, 15 African-Americans were elected to the U.S. House of Representatives and two were elected to the U.S. Senate – Hiram Revels (R) became the first black U.S. Senator and Blanche K. Bruce (R), a former slave, became the first African-American to preside over the Senate. 

Nevertheless, on Aug. 28, 1963, Dr. King stood before the statue of the Great Emancipator, President Abraham Lincoln, and convicted the conscience of a nation, reminding America that the evils of racism continued to corrupt our culture and to compromise its institutions. 

The evils of racial segregation were still casting dark shadows across our national landscape, forcing African-Americans to live as “exile[s] in [their] own land” and denying them their full birthright as co-heirs to the American Dream.

Dr. King, however, believed a better future was possible – even imminent. After all, he was a dreamer. He described Black America as standing on “the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice[,]” and he foresaw a day when the children of slaves and slaveholders would sit together at “the table of brotherhood[.]”

His words proved prophetic. Less than one year later, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which, among other things, banned racial discrimination in employment and ended segregation in public places.

On June 12, 1967, in Loving v. Virginia, the U.S. Supreme Court took Dr. King’s dream a step further – the children of slaves and slaveholders could now legally marry. Finally, on August 30, 1967, four years after Dr. King shared his dream, Justice Thurgood Marshall became the first African-American to cross the threshold that led into our nation’s “palace of justice” and took his place in one of its judgment seats. The “arc of the moral universe” was inexorably “bend[ing] toward justice” at an accelerated pace.

Dr. King, however, sensed he would not live to enjoy the fullness of his dream; he would only see it from a distance. The night before his assassination, invoking biblical imagery, he likened himself to Moses, declaring that God had allowed him “to go up to the mountain.” He had seen a future of freedom and equality, “the Promised Land,” from where he stood. Like Moses, he would not cross over, but his people would. 

As I reflect on Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, I am reminded that it also laid out the path to realizing his dream – love.

I am not talking about the kind of love that is borne of sentimentality or fleeting feelings. I am talking about the kind of love that compels one to lay down his life for another; the kind of love that inspires someone to identify with and advocate for those suffering injustice; the kind of love that forgives even the most grievous wrongs and gravest of transgressions. Dr. King believed that kind of love would forge a path through Jim Crow’s desert wilderness to the verdant hills and the mighty streams of the Promised Land.

Sadly, many politicians, pundits, and professors are actively working to dismantle the dream for which Dr. King and others gave their lives. They serve up frothing “cup[s] of bitterness and hatred,” encouraging aggrieved people of color to drink their poisoned ale.

Nevertheless, Dr. King’s booming baritone can still be heard today, inspiring us to choose a better way – love over hate, unity over division, forgiveness over bitterness, reconciliation over grievance, and partnership over partisanship. 

Let freedom ring.

Niki Tshibaka is a former federal civil rights attorney and government executive.


  1. It’s actually called “100 years later”.

    The best way to achieve the dream is to somehow convince black people to stop supporting the left.

    Nobody does racism as well as democratically.

    • “Sadly, many politicians, pundits, and professors are actively working to dismantle the dream for which Dr. King and others gave their lives. They serve up frothing “cup[s] of bitterness and hatred,” encouraging aggrieved people of color to drink their poisoned ale.”

      Yes sadly, Masked Aggrieved, your message lives up to the Republican drumbeat that Niki is unwilling and unable to call out. Liberal democracy or western democracy is the combination of a liberal political philosophy that operates under a representative democratic form of government. A theocratic autocracy that many Neocon Evangelical Republicans support is a dead end. The Jacksonville shooter, “hated black people.” Thoughts and prayers.

      • Wait, SeenThisB4, you are comparing an individual mentally ill sociopath unto a movement of individual equality created by a statesman that represented his message far beyond what said sociopath could possibly comprehend?

        And it is under a representative Republic that you are referring unto, as there is no such thing as a viable representative democratic form of government that is not a totalitarian within realism.

  2. Martin Luther King jr should had used his platform to talk about Christ directly than talking around ane about the qualities of being reconciled to God through the Cross leaving out Christ. Anyone who really overcame all know it’s because of God’s love entered them. Overcoming wasn’t by their own strength, it was because of God and their own submission, their own admittance to recognize they are sinner prone toward being unloving, unforgiving, unkind, selfish, self centered, resentment, unequal-playing favorites, adulterous, fearful. You know how hard it is for us to bow our heads in admittance when we realize we were wrong about something. Some people don’t want to bend on a knee before Almighty or they make but but but excuse not really admitting but but but make justifications why they couldn’t love, not forgive, not take care of that neighbor, not break a habit. Cause how could his listeners really “choose a better way – love over hate, unity over division, forgiveness over bitterness, reconciliation over grievance, and partnership over partisanship“ if the hirelings they follow don’t exhibit those qualities after the Good Shepard.

    • Jen, How about some examples of how YOU have done this? It’s easy to “ talk the talk” much more difficult to “walk the walk”. Nothing better than leading by example!!

    • Jen, how does this sentiment of “choose a better way – love over hate, unity over division, forgiveness over bitterness, reconciliation over grievance, and partnership over partisanship“ square with your comment on the house burning down?

      You said: “I can’t feel sorry for another democrat voter taking a loss of property or business because of this town’s Democrat leadership”

      Isn’t that choosing partisanship over partnership or division over unity?

      You are a prime example of the religious hypocrisy that causes so many people to avoid/leave the church

  3. Judge the Baptist minister by the content of his character.
    “among other things” includes a never ending dependency on the state. I wonder if the bureaucrat-lawyer thinks that’s a good thing?

    • Are you referring to Mr. Tshibaka? If so, your response was somewhat narrow in views. Just because the career you chose was being a public servant and worked for the government does not mean we believe in dependency on the state.
      Many of us are conservatives that have fought to work within the system. What have your accomplishments been??

      • I have a dream that I would be handed two six figure jobs with retirement and medical benefits. Than I can make the people who hired me look like fools while I run around wearing a partisan t-shirt claiming partnership over partisanship.

      • Just that your livelihoods depend on the state. That’s my “accomplishment”, paying your wages. 30+trillion dollars later, we got nothing to show for it except waste, fraud, abuse, election fraud, lawfare, crime, filth, foreign entanglements etc etc. With fighters like you’all who needs a system?

      • “How sad that people of color seem to have no self esteem!” Your words, Judy. So yes, it’s sad, so many of those in the public spotlight have a malfunctioning racist filter button.

  4. I have a dream …

    …that radical leftist extremists will be judged not by the color of their platitudes, but by the content of their agendas and policies.

  5. Well stated. Dr. King preached a message of freedom and unalienable rights based on the ‘greatest commandment” put forth by Jesus in Matthew 22:36-40. Sadly this has become twisted into all sorts of deformed ideas, or ignored altogether, by most elected officials and decision makers.

  6. I met Nikki and Kelly Tshibaka along Kelly’s campaign trail for US Senate. Both are very fine people and dedicated to freedom and liberty. Both are Harvard Law School graduates and met at law school. Both are great parents and dedicated to raising their children from the mind-numbing ideologies of Democrats, liberals, and LGBTQ promoters. Kelly would have made a superb senator from Alaska and she had the complete backing by the Alaska Republican Party, but for the RCV that eliminated a primary election. Kelly would have won the Primary easily and dispatched the unethical Lisa Murkowski and ended 42 years of the Murkowski rule in Alaska.

  7. Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.: Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

    But 100 years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself in exile in his own land. And so, we’ve come here today to dramatize a shameful condition. 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.

    We have also come to his hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism.

    Kurt Severin/Three Lions/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
    Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quick sands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.

    It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. 1963 is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual.

    There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

    But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.

    We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny.

    And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone. And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back.

    There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, when will you be satisfied? We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities.

    We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating for whites only.

    We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote, and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote.

    No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.

    I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive. Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our Northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed.

    Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends.

    So even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.

    I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

    I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

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

    I have a dream that one day down in Alabama with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification, one day right down in Alabama little Black boys and Black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers. I have a dream today.

    I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

    This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

    This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with new meaning: My country, ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrims’ pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.

    And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true. And so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania. Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado. Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California. But not only that, let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia. Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee. Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

    And when this happens, and when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, Black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual: Free at last. Free at last. Thank God almighty, we are free at last.

    • Do we formally know the international formal law steps we must, as all nations must do, to first recognize the the steps which are necessarily, formally required to be taken by us to achieve “citizship”? Better to know the ladder rungs not existing in Euro pean society nor espoused there by WEF etc. but exists solely in our very strong republic here on this continent and declared by Jamie Madison and the Lee’s of Virginia. I doubt it because these tenets are excised by liberals in public education and corruptive, decadent fantasies are formally taught in lieu.

    • Thank you for your thoughts and all I can say, “never give up” your freedom in any way. It cost someone their life. On our shores and land or abroad. Keep the focus, struggle and work, but never give up.

  8. The saddest part of this magnificent speech is that the entrenched leftist and Democrat (KKK) power brokers would consider the individual making such a speech as an ‘Uncle Tom’ so as to break away from their plantation even now, 60 years later.

    His ‘Dream’ was, and is, their ‘Nightmare’, that individuals, no matter what pigment, should contain their thoughts unto the individual basis, rather than the individual basis of pigment.

    The KKK unity within the leftist and Democrat Party remains strong, and always shall, until such time that we, the people, disregard said moronic ideology, and dispose of it where it belongs. Within the trash heap of history.

  9. “Let freedom ring” as long as it agrees with your narrowminded Bible thumping false church starting to cover your tracks against RCV. Pathetic is all I can say about you and your wife.

  10. Conflation at it’s best worst. Agree or disagree . . . if Governor George Wallace was still alive, he would be a member of the Republican party? Yes or no? And if no, what party would he likely align himself with? Try not to contain those thoughts.

    • Friend, I heard George Wallace campaigning the day before he was shot… He was then, and would be today, a democrat, period. He would have stood against the alphabet soup, and he would have been appalled at the gains of the communists – but demrat he would still be, because the demrats are the ones beating the drums of racism, promoting and enforcing racism, all the while they profess to be fighting it. Wallace, BTW, was a LIBERAL demrat, and proudly racist and liberal. SeenB4, you are displaying your own racist tendencies.
      Well said, Niki.

      • After pledging “Segregation now! Segregation tomorrow! Segregation forever!” in his 1963 inaugural address, Alabama Governor George Wallace gained national notoriety by standing at the entrance to the University of Alabama to denounce the enrollment of two African American students. Martin Luther King described Wallace as “perhaps the most dangerous racist in America today”

        Your fantasy Rich, is a pathetic racist’s delusion at it’s worst. Meanwhile, blacks in this country are literally being hunted down by white supremacists while shopping.

  11. The metaphor of going to Washington DC to “cash a check” may illustrate part of the ongoing problem. The freedom and liberty we all cherish as the American Dream should not be viewed as entitlement to free stuff, a so-called check to cash. Rather it should be viewed as our right to work hard to better ourselves economically while behaving morally; faithful to our republic. Practically, an entry ticket to a free-for-all, rat-race; a chance to bust your butt to better yourself. Granted, some have taken their seat at the table of civil rights later than others. The question is, why do we see many of Oriental heritage achieving more than most of European heritage? Alternatively, why do we see many of African heritage continuing to struggle? What is the difference? What is lacking in some versus others? Could it be the spirit of self-motivation, diligence and respect? A spirit that does not rely upon government hand-outs and free stuff? A spirit that wins against difficult odds? Is this not the true American spirit? The spirit that fought for and built this great nation?

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