Other speakers raised the specter of Trayvon Martin and New York city’s “stop and frisk” practice. But with all this fearmongering, what got lost in the demagoguery was the original message of Dr. King. It was a message steeped in the Christian tradition of the brotherhood of man — not so much “color blindness” but rather “color tolerance.” King had no illusions about the difficulties that lay ahead (nor his own vulnerabilities).  As he eerily proclaimed the night before he was murdered:

Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn’t matter with me now, because I’ve been to the mountaintop. And I don’t mind.

Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land!

And so I’m happy, tonight.

I’m not worried about anything.

I’m not fearing any man.

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.

That kind of courage and vision was missing from the speakers on the Mall today.