Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous words from his “I Have a Dream” speech nearly fell victim to the PC police at the University of Oregon.
Students reportedly considered permanently removing the inspirational quote from a temporarily shelved plaque in the lobby of the student union building, which is undergoing renovation, and replacing it with entirely different language.
In his famous speech delivered at the Lincoln Memorial on August 28, 1963, Dr. King — the nation’s foremost and most beloved civil rights leader — declared that “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…”
Dr. King was tragically assassinated on April 4, 1968, in Memphis, Tennessee, at age 39.
The plaque containing those words has been on display in the Erb Memorial Union lobby since 1986, when it replaced a quote from a retired dean which was considered sexist because it used the term “men.”
Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a federal holiday, was celebrated this year on January 18.
The school’s student newspaper, the Daily Emerald, explained that due consideration was given to removing the MLK plaque from the wall because it apparently lacked sufficient inclusion or diversity by today’s standards in their view.
“Laurie Woodward, the Director of the Student Union said that when she approached the union with the question of if they wanted to keep the current MLK quote or supplement a new one, one of the students asked, ‘Does the MLK quote represent us today?’
“‘Diversity is so much more than race. Obviously race still plays a big role. But there are people who identify differently in gender and all sorts of things like that,’ [a] sophomore architecture major… said.”
Evidently, the Martin Luther King Jr. plaque at the University of Oregon is safe, for now, although it wasn’t reinstalled amidst the building renovation project in time for this year’s Martin Luther King Day.
“The quote is not going to change, but that decision was not made without some hard thought by the Student Union Board…Woodward says she has no idea if the quote will change again in the near future, but she’s merely excited that important discussions like this are being held on campus again.”
Initial (or perhaps future) efforts to take down the quote is an example of a troublesome and dispiriting political correctness trend on college campuses, a Daily Beast columnist asserted.
“It’s true, the quote makes no reference to other kinds of diversity, like gender or sexual orientation or disability status. But then again, King wasn’t so much celebrating diversity as he was championing tolerance and equal treatment for all people, regardless of categorization. King’s point was that everyone deserves the same rights as everyone else—implicitly, that includes people of varying genders, orientations, etc…This time, political correctness lost out—the student union doesn’t have any plans to scrub the King quote, for now….[the MLK plaque at Oregon] is a great example of an increasingly common kind of activism: Students trying to censor something that isn’t objectively offensive by any stretch of the imagination…”
Reacting to the possibility of Dr. King’s words being erased from the student union, Alveda King (the niece of the civil rights leader) told Fox News that “Martin Luther King was very inclusive because he loved the human family. It was based on a timeless foundation, so I am glad that they have decided to have the quote displayed.”
Do you think that Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech lacks inclusivity or is in any way offensive because it contains no reference to gender?
[Photo by Chick Harrity/AP)