SSN Commentary

60 Years After the March on Washington, MLK’s Dream Has Become a Nightmare

Policy field

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University of Southern California

Originally published in The Hill on August 28, 2023.

This Aug. 28 marks the 60th anniversary of a moment many Americans view as a turning point in U.S. history: the Civil Rights Movement’s March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, also known as the site of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I have a dream” speech.

In history books, in history and film, and in so many popular recollections, King’s speech marks the beginning of an irrevocable sea change and moral awakening that would leave racism in the past. And yet, if Dr. King were to reflect on the movement’s legacy today, I believe he would find that his dream has been used in the service of a living nightmare.