In a story from Memphis on the 40th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King in that city, ABC's Steve Osunsami acknowledged great economic progress for black citizens with “a definable black middle class,” but warned “there are still large disparities.” He then featured a man at the anniversary events who insisted “we're waiting for progress” followed by Jesse Jackson using the solemn occasion to complain about the Iraq war and tax cuts:
We are freer but less equal. To that extent, we spend $3 trillion on the war in Iraq and give tax breaks to the wealthy. You have this body of poverty, growing poverty in our cities. And our response to it is what? First-class jails and second-class schools.
The Reverend Bill Kyle, who was with King when he was murdered, rued that “now that we have the right to go to a school, we need the money to pay the tuition,” before Osunsami concluded by agreeing King's dream of equality remains unfulfilled: “Not quite what Dr. King had dreamed. But some dreams take a mighty long time to realize.”
Transcript of the story on the Friday, April 4 World News on ABC anchored by George Stephanopoulos:
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Dr. King was in Memphis to march with the city's striking sanitation workers. At the time, they were making $1.80 an hour. Their work was dirty and degrading, two had been crushed to death by faulty equipment. The strikers still living will never forget King. Nor will those on the motel balcony that evening. Here's Steve Osunsami.
ARCHIVAL NEWS AUDIO: The shot apparently came from an apartment building directly across the street.
STEVE OSUNSAMI: Those who were there, will never forget.
JESSE JACKSON: I remember Andy Young feeling his pulse. I remember Billy Kyle putting a sheet here to at least cover the blood flow.
REVEREND BILL KYLE: I rushed to his side. There was a gaping hole in the right side of his face. There was a bigger wound under his shirt.
JACKSON: I was in trauma then. I'm in pain today. It hurts me. A man 39 years old, who did so much to make America and the world better.
OSUNSAMI: Today, we went back to visit the Memphis garbage workers who dared to stand up for higher wages and equal treatment. Alen Sanders is still on the job and says he'll never forget the struggle. Only the black workers picked up the city's garbage.
ALEN SANDER: Had to work all day. Sleet, snow, ice. You couldn't stop. Couldn't take a break. Couldn't do anything.
OSUNSAMI: In time, the sanitation workers did get their raise. That moment on the balcony, the real start for the battle of economic and not just racial equality. Some of Dr. King's dream has been fulfilled. There is a definable black middle class. And a whole generation of black children who've never had to live the struggle of the 1960s. But four decades later and there are still large disparities.
OSUNSAMI TO A GROUP: How much progress, or how little progress, do you think we've made in 40 years?
DEAN BUTLER: I think it's more of a sign of hope. Not necessarily progress. We're waiting for progress.
JACKSON: We are freer but less equal. To that extent, we spend $3 trillion on the war in Iraq and give tax breaks to the wealthy. You have this body of poverty, growing poverty in our cities. And our response to it is what? First-class jails and second-class schools.
KYLE: Now that we have the right to go to a school, we need the money to pay the tuition.
OSUNSAMI: Not quite what Dr. King had dreamed. But some dreams take a mighty long time to realize. Steve Osunsami, ABC News, Memphis.