Lincoln, during debates for his first presidential campaign, fielded many questions regarding Blacks and the issue of slavery. Lincoln’s opponent held a common belief among White Americans that the Black race was inherently inferior.
During one debate Lincoln’s response was, essentially, even if that’s true, it doesn’t mean they aren’t men who deserve the same freedom as anybody else.
Lincoln once said, “As I would not be a slave, so I will not be a master.”
Lincoln was a bit ahead of his time… which really is unfortunate that there was a time when people were so limited in their thinking as to believe that the color of a man’s skin was an indicator of their intelligence.
Nearly one hundred years later, a Black teenager entered college at the age of 15 and went on to manhood to earn a doctorate in theology.
That man, from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in 1963, concluded:
When we let freedom ring … all of God’s children … will be able to join hands and sing…
Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty we are free at last!
Perhaps in another hundred years, people will look back on our time and wonder about our society, and think how foolish it is that we withhold freedoms from groups of people because we don’t like the way they live, love, or believe. And perhaps they will have found a whole other group of people to hate and withhold freedoms from.
And, like us, they will feel justified in it just as they felt justified in withholding freedoms a hundred years before today and as we feel justified in doing it now.
And someone like me will wonder, “Will we ever be able to let freedom ring? Will we ever truly be free at last?”