Monday, January 18, 2010


The Rainbow Dictionary.JPG

I picked up The Rainbow Dictionary (©1947, 1959) at a garage sale back when I was an art student in San Francisco. I remember the sale well, because I also scored some Playboy magazines from 1968 (the year I was born), and some Bibles. At the time I was into making one-of-a-kind art books, and had visions of the witty/ironic/acerbic statements I would make by juxtaposing my new finds.

Flash forward about 20 years. Sorting through books to sell this week (part of a massive home purge I've got going on) I ran across the Dictionary (the Playboys and Bibles long ago discarded). Frankly, I had forgotten all about it, and was pleased to find it since Anna's the perfect age for such a book. Picking it up, I flipped it open, to find this sandwiched between needle and neighbor:


And I thought, how bizarre. On the weekend that we're celebrating the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, with Barack Obama in the White House, to come across this (weird, sad) piece of history. But it's also a good reminder.

Today Anna and I attended a celebration of Dr King's birthday at a church in town. We two white, Jewish girls were were unremarkable in the mixed crowd. And it made me very thankful that my daughter will never understand how such a thing as segregation (and worse) ever happened, because she takes for granted that all people are created equal.

Perhaps it is naive of me to say this, but today I felt that just maybe we are beginning to live the Dream.

“I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment, 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 a table of brotherhood.

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

I have a dream that my four 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 the state of Alabama, whose governor's lips are presently dripping with the words of interposition and nullification, will be transformed into a situation where little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls and walk together 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 with which I return to the South. 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 a new meaning, "My country, 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim's pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring."

And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. 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 peaks 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 every molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

When we let 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!”

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., 1963


P.S. This post happens to be my 200th. Thanks for coming along for the ride!