Fifty years ago today, a remarkable group of men and women assembled on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial with a simple request: equality for all Americans.
In the intervening half-century, we've made some notable advances toward that goal, some so notable (Hi, Mr. President!--waves) that we are told we've achieved the Dream envisioned there: a "post-racial" country, where all have the same chance to achieve and where the colors of skins are invisible, the content of characters being the only thing which determine our lives.
Such a beautiful vision, such a hopeful thought. It so much should be true that we want to convince ourselves it is true.
Then, as always, someone comes along to harsh the buzz.
This week, it's Dustin Cable at University of Virginia's Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service, who has taken data from the 2010 census and created a map of the United States composed of 308,745,538 dots, one for each of us, color-coded by, well, "color."
A brief glance at just about any city on this map will inform you that, far from being post-racial, we are nearly as segregated by the fiction we call "race" as we have ever been. B-ham's "Hill" is as clear in "color" as it would be on a USGS topo map. Detroit's 8 Mile could be seen from space if people would paint their houses to match their skins.
Even my own beloved New Orleans, a place where I see people living chockablock with others much different from themselves, is starkly segregated when seen in actual data rather than wishful anecdotes.
I know we've made great strides since that day in 1963. But Cable's map unassailably demonstrates, we are still a nation divided and, as such, will have a damned hard time standing.