CBC “On this Day”: Martin Luther King's “I have a Dream” speech

CBC “On this Day”:  Martin Luther King's “I have a Dream” speech

Yesterday, the CBC website marked “On This Day” with Martin Luther King Jr.'s famous “I Have a Dream” speech.  This is such an incredible speech.  It still sends shivers down my spine.  Especially with my experiences over this past year, becoming surrounded by the Chinese Head Tax redress movement as well as the campaign to save Joy Kogawa's childhood home, and bringing up all the issues of the Japanese Canadian internment.

This morning I have been reading the first chapter of David Suzuki: the autobiography, titled “My Happy Childhood in Racist British Columbia.”  It has been very moving, as he describes the experiences that shaped his perceptions of the world, both against Canadian white society, and the Japanese community – to which he felt an “outsider.”

Martin Luther King was assinated on April 4, 1968.  Suzuki writes about his experience:

Students at UBC organized a rally on the steps of the library to express our sorrow.  I was an associate professor and spoke out, telling British Columbians that this was a time for us not to smugly reaffirm our sense of superiority over Americans but to reexamine our own society.  I reminded them of the incarceration of Japanese Canadians during World War II, the treatment of Native people, and the fact that Asians and blacks wer not allowed to vote in B.C. until the 1960's.  The Vancouver Sun wrote a scathing editorial that chastised me for opening old wounds, for raising issues that were not relevant on the occasion of a King memorial.  It was then that I realiszed how important tenure was as I was subtly informed that university administrators were nervous about faculty members who might attract negative publicity.
                    – page 52-53  David Suzuki the Autobiography

Suzuki writes an autobiography that is both gripping and enlightening.  He shares how events shape his life and perceptions.  He demonstrates how action or inaction both have consequences.  And most importantly how Canada has a racist history, and it is recent, and the victims are still walking amongst us, still hurting and suffering. 

Meeting so many head tax descendants and hearing their family stories, of how separation makes you ask what kind of human beings did we have running our governments.  The same kind that kept African Americans segregated in the American south, or kept First Nations Canadians segregated on reserves.

See the special article that my friend Ian wrote for the David Suzuki event for the CBC Book Club

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