On Martin Luther King's holiday, I think about the contrast between his March on Washington and the recent mob invasion of the U.S. Capitol.
On that sweltering day in August 1963, King gave his "I Have a Dream" speech to 250,000 mostly black citizens gathered on the National Mall before the Lincoln Memorial.
The nonviolent "march for jobs and freedom" sought equal rights for the country's black citizens. King's vision of racial unity and economic opportunity inspired landmark voting rights and civil rights legislation.
Violence and conflict during the 1960s gave the counterpoint to King's message.
John F. Kennedy was killed in Dallas months after King's eloquent appeal. Lyndon Johnson, the champion of civil rights legislation, saw his presidency destroyed by his escalation of the Vietnam War.
After expanding his message to oppose the war, King was killed by a right-wing assassin in 1968. Soon after, Robert Kennedy was murdered. The 1968 Democratic convention in Chicago disintegrated into rioting, leading to the election of Richard Nixon.
On Jan. 6, of this year Trump in a crude divergence from King's speech exhorted his followers gathered in Washington to march to the Capitol and disrupt the certification of Joe Biden's election as president.
Answering Trump's incitement to violence, the white supremacist mob invaded the capitol, threatening the lives of Vice President Pence, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and members of Congress. Five people, including a Capitol police officer, were killed.
As Trump slinks away, impeached for a second time, he leaves Washington an armed camp for Biden's inauguration. Presidential inaugurations through the years have celebrated the country's open democratic society and peaceful transfer of power.
This week's presence of troops recalls Lincoln's first inauguration on the cusp of the Civil War. A century after the war's end, and the abolition of slavery, King called for the country to fulfill the promise of full citizenship for black citizens.
Trump and the GOP have sought to cripple the racial progress King inspired. After the destructive Trump years, Biden promises to restore America's commitment to justice and equality.
The Jan. 6 violence and presence of armed troops in the nation's capital expose a vast chasm in fulfilling King's dream.