- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 23, 2000

Martin Luther King III, who runs the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, an organization his father co-founded in 1957, will be in town Saturday to mark the 37th anniversary of the March on Washington. Lots of prominent organizations have endorsed the rally, including the ACLU, and other well-known civil rights leaders will be there, including the Rev. Al Sharpton. They are calling Saturday's rally at the Lincoln Memorial "Redeem the Dream" and focusing on a handful of topics as a rallying cry.

"The issue of racial profiling and police brutality and misconduct is very prevalent," Mr. King said. The goal is to persuade President Clinton to sign an executive order that would withhold federal funds from police agencies that engage in racial profiling.

Two incidents most closely associated with racial profiling and police brutality are the Rodney King case in Los Angeles and the case of Amadou Diallo in New York. Los Angeles, you may recall, erupted in violence following the acquittals of the white police officers in the Rodney King case, and Mr. Diallo's family is pursuing civil rights action in the death of their son, who was shot 41 times when police suspected he was about to draw a gun. Justice, they and their supporters argue, has not been meted out. Mr. Sharpton, as a matter of record, consistently singles out the Diallo case when talking about justice for blacks.

By doing so, Mr. Sharpton often incites hostility instead of the nonviolence Martin Luther King Jr. sought. Further, he may undermine a law-enforcement tactic profiling, racial and otherwise that police say is indispensable in reducing crime rates that threaten minorities as much or more as anyone else.

Set aside the merits of the argument for the moment, however. For many an American, it is practically impossible to imagine the diverse crowd of 200,000 that stood in the shadow of the Lincoln Memorial on Aug. 28, 1963, let alone be versed in what Martin Luther King Jr. actually said in his "I Have A Dream" speech. For the record, he talked about the "quicksands of racial injustice." How could he not? Segregation and "for colored only" signs were as real as the heat bearing down on the mall that summer day.

As important as what he said, though, is what King did not say. He did not single out any individual, or incident good or bad during his historic speech. It really and truly would be a testament to his dream if Mr. Sharpton would do the same in his memory.

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