One of the most memorable speeches written in history is Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I have A Dream.” In 1963, Dr. King delivered this iconic speech at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC. In it, he addressed freedom and jobs of Black Americans to thousands of people who marched and gathered to hear him speak. Dr. King stated how some one hundred years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed, the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination is still crippling, and many Negro’s still live on the lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. He challenged the nation to make good on the promissory note of the Declaration of Independence which guaranteed that all men (in 2018 this includes women) have rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Dr. King felt that America wrote black people a bad check and the check was marked insufficient funds when it came to housing and jobs. He came to Capitol Hill to cash a check that was written one hundred years ago by the founding fathers of this country. The March in Washington will forever be the greatest demonstration in our nation’s history for freedom.
In 2018 I feel the City of Peoria continues to default on its promissory note to residents on the Southside of Peoria. I’m asking City officials to stop giving residents on the Southside of Peoria a check marked insufficient funds when it comes to housing and development. The housing of 2018 in Peoria’s Southside does not differ much from the housing in 1968. Most African Americans who live in the 61605 area, are still disproportionately impacted by poor housing and the lack of economic opportunities. There has not been any revitalization in Peoria’s 61605 for over 45 years.
Much admiration to residents who have lived on the Southside for 45 years or more. They mow their lawns, sweep their sidewalks, and paint their homes. They’ve done everything to keep their older homes in as good as condition as possible. Yet these minor but normal house maintenance actions don’t seem to make a difference when there is so much deterioration and blight in the neighborhood.
Dr. Kings legacy will always be an inspiration for many of us to end poverty. My dream is one day you will see homes from Lincoln street to Smith street on the Southside of Peoria transformed into an oasis of well-manicured lawns. I dream the people who live in these homes will be from all backgrounds that include Black, White, Jew, Muslim, and Catholic. I dream these residents will be able to sit down and share meals together. My dream is someday there will be thriving grocery stores that are within walking distances for people that reside in the 61605 area. I dream the City of Peoria will make good on their promissory note to residents and make 61605 a viable and productive community.