Bishop Reginald Jackson recalls speaking at a national convention a few years ago in New York.
In the lobby of the hotel, he said, was a gallery, where one painting, in particular, captured his attention.
It showed a black man, his hands wrapped in chains, as a mother and children stood in the background. At the bottom were the words: “I have a dream, but these chains have me.”
Jackson, speaking to an audience of hundreds in Albuquerque on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, said the picture made him angry, but it also contained some truth.
“Even today in 2013, there are still a lot of people who have a dream, but chains have them,” Jackson said Monday. “May I remind you, all chains are not physical. Today, in Albuquerque and all across this county, there are people who have a dream, but chains have them.”
Jackson, bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, shared that anecdote and others thoughts Monday in an energetic address at the 17th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. commemorative breakfast. He is a Delaware native and also serves as executive director of the Black Ministers’ Council of New Jersey.
The lack of a good education, Jackson said, can serve as chains, as can the fear of violence.
“A good education is an equalizer in our society,” he said. “Too many of our children have a dream, but chains have them. A good education is not a privilege. A good education is a civil right.”
Jackson also used the occasion to speak in favor of President Barack Obama’s gun proposals, which include banning both military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines.
“If you need an assault weapon to kill a deer, you need some help,” he said, drawing laughs from the audience.
The two-hour breakfast, held at the Marriot Pyramid Hotel, included music from the “KING’s Men” chorus and remarks from state Treasurer James Lewis and Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry.
Officers of Albuquerque’s Grant Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church served as hosts of the event.
Lewis mentioned that MLK day coincided with the inauguration of Obama. He urged attendees to do more than just socialize, to “make a commitment 365 days out of a year” to make a difference.
Jackson concluded his speech by noting that the words under the picture that had infuriated him so much included an ellipsis at the end, meaning “that’s not the end of the story.”
— This article appeared on page C1 of the Albuquerque Journal