What Would Dr. King Think of America Today?

The 'Promised Land' is still elusive, 40 years after King's assassination.

ByABC News
April 4, 2008, 2:28 PM

April 4, 2008— -- There is little doubt that some of Martin Luther King Jr.'s dreams have come true.

There is a definable black middle class African-Americans excelling in every profession, from arts to sciences and there are many more minority elected and appointed officials.

Could King have imagined Oprah as one of the powerful women in media? Will Smith as, arguably, the top box office draw in Hollywood? Noted heart surgeon Ben Carson, lawyers, astronauts. A black man leading in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination?

But for all the progress, there are painful truths about a significant segment of black America. And we are left to ponder: what might King think?

How would King react if he knew that many young people, especially blacks, were dropping out school? In many major cities, less than half of students graduate. And according to national statistics, blacks drop out at double the rate of their white counterparts.

What would King think about blacks dying of homicide at six times the rate of white Americans?

What would King think about the stunning number of African-Americans in jail or on parole? Blacks make up 13 percent of the nation's population, but are nearly 40 percent of those incarcerated.

The rate of AIDS in the black community is 10 times that of whites.

Eight percent of whites are poor in this country, while 24 percent of blacks live in poverty three times more.

What would King think?

Just before his assassination, King spoke of the promised land of equality.

"I might not get to the promised land with you. But one day we will get to the promised land," he said.

The promised land. One day. But not yet.