Bill Nelson: We have not realized Dr. King’s dream


Fifty years ago Wednesday the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and shared his dream with the world.

As we pause to remember that iconic moment in our nation’s history, we should reflect on all the progress our country has made since the slain civil rights leader spoke from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

At the same time we cannot and must not lose sight of the fact that there remains much to be done.

I wonder, for example, what Dr. King would have said or would have done after the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent ruling that in essence gutted the country’s Voting Rights Act.

Earlier this year, a sharply divided High Court hammered a stake into the law that’s been guaranteeing equal access to the ballot since the time of Dr. King in the late 1960s.

For anyone to still say we no longer have voter suppression in this country — that would be naive. It may not be as blatant as it once was, but it’s there.

Just two years ago the Florida Legislature passed and Gov. Rick Scott signed a new law limiting early voting. The law included some other so-called reforms, as well.

Now the governor is pushing ahead with his program to purge from the state’s voter rolls people he says aren’t supposed to vote. Critics contend the move will result in citizens being intimidated, despite having every legal right to vote.

Dr. King believed that in a democracy like ours, every citizen has a fundamental right to vote. “So long as I do not firmly and irrevocably possess the right to vote I do not possess myself,” he said. “I cannot make up my mind — it is made up for me. I cannot live as a democratic citizen, observing the laws I have helped to enact — I can only submit to the edict of others.”

I agree. And until we as a country truly uphold this right we will not have realized the dream Dr. King so artfully articulated 50 years ago.

Bill Nelson is Florida’s senior U.S. senator.

Read more From Our Inbox stories from the Miami Herald

  • No one wins in fight for legroom at 40,000 feet

    I’m 6-foot-2 and all leg, so I’m very sympathetic to folks who complain about legroom. However, like many tall people, I also have a bad back, so I’m very sympathetic to folks who want to recline their seats. Heck, I’m even sympathetic to the airlines that are cramming people into planes with the wild abandon of college freshmen filling their trunks for summer break.

  • When journalists become the story

    In recent weeks, and in very different environments, journalists have found themselves in the unusual position of becoming the subject of news stories rather than the people telling them. First, my Washington Post colleague Wesley Lowery and the Huffington Post’s Ryan J. Reilly were arrested in a Ferguson, Mo., McDonald’s while covering protests against police brutality. Soon after, we learned that James Foley, a freelance journalist, was murdered by his Islamic State captors, an act that communicated the lethal tactics of that organization in the ugliest possible terms.

  • Al Sharpton, the White House’s mouthpiece

    As he has grown weary of Washington, President Obama has shed parts of his presidency, like drying petals falling off a rose.

Miami Herald

Join the

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category