Fifty years ago, an American — Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. — spoke of a dream he had that was still alive in his spirit. When placing it in context he spoke of the Emancipation Proclamation, signed some 100 years earlier, that was to free millions of Negro slaves.
His dream was deeply rooted in the American Dream and grounded in the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, this country’s foundational documents which are still relevant and applicable to us today. But it was a dream that had been recurring to him at least since 1961. A recurring dream, which I understand is typically related to stress or a nightmare. I don’t have the impression that his dream was a nightmare, but it was certainly borne out of stress about the racial inequalities in our country.
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The Rev. Joseph C. Parker Jr., pastor of East Austin’s David Chapel Missionary Baptist Church for more than two decades, was born into the civil rights movement.
His father, also a Baptist pastor, was a friend and college schoolmate of Martin Luther King Jr. and marched with King in Alabama. Growing up in Birmingham, the younger Parker witnessed the smoke from the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing, which killed four children in 1963.
While also pursuing the ministry, he finished the University of Texas Law School and began a legal career that included the position of chief litigator for the State Bar of Texas and the first African American elected president of the Travis County Bar Association.
At a UT symposium in May, Parker, 60, received the Heman Marion Sweatt Legacy Award, named for the man whose lawsuit forced UT Law School to open its doors to African-Americans in 1950.