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The full text of Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech given on August 28, 1963 in Washington, DC:
“I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.
Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.
But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.
In a sense we have come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.” But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check — a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quick sands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.
It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.
But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.
We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. They have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.
As we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “When will you be satisfied?” We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied, as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating “For Whites Only”. We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.
I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.
Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.
I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.
I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.
This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.
This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with a new meaning, “My country, ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.”
And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!
Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!
Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California!
But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!
Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!
Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.
And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”
As we all know, Congress has now passed and President Obama has signed the “American Tax Payer Relief Act of 2012”, the legislation avoiding the so-called “fiscal cliff” – for now. The Act made some changes to the federal estate tax.
The exemption amount for estate and gift tax is now five million dollars for an individual and ten million dollars for a married couple. The tax rate for estates above the exemption was raised five percent to 40%. Without the legislation, the exemption amount would have only been one million dollars for an individual, two million for a married couple. The exemption amount will also now be indexed annually for inflation.
The legislation also made permanent the portability of an unused exemption by the first spouse to die. Thus, the current practice of allowing the estate of the first spouse to die to transfer any unused exemption to the surviving spouse by a filing with the IRS is now permanent. Previously, it was necessary to have trusts established to insure the full exemption amount was used.
I frequently receive telephone calls from prospective clients who are in the midst of a home improvement disaster and considering litigation against the contractor. Although there is no way to guarantee a problem free home improvement experience, I can offer a few suggestions.
Before selecting a contractor, do some investigation. Performing an internet search can be surprisingly informative. You can also contact the Better Business Bureau and ask for references from the contractor. As you might expect, finding the right contractor is most of the battle.
After you find the right contractor, you want to make sure your agreement is clear. The Indiana Home Improvement Contracts Act (“Act”) (Indiana Code §24-5-11 et seq.) protects the homeowner by requiring that home improvement contractors utilize a written agreement signed by both the contractor and the homeowners. The Act requires the contract state the following:
“(1) The name of the consumer and the address of the residential property that is the subject of the home improvement.
(2) The name and address of the home improvement supplier and each of the telephone numbers and names of any agent to whom consumer problems and inquiries can be directed.
(3) The date the home improvement contract was submitted to the consumer and any time limitation on the consumer’s acceptance of the home improvement contract.
(4) A reasonably detailed description of the proposed home improvements.
(5) If the description required by subdivision (4) does not include the specifications for the home improvement, a statement that the specifications will be provided to the consumer before commencing any work and that the home improvement contract is subject to the consumer’s separate written and dated approval of the specifications.
(6) The approximate starting and completion dates of the home improvements.
(7) A statement of any contingencies that would materially change the approximate completion date.
(8) The home improvement contract price.
(9) Signature lines for the home improvement supplier or the supplier’s agent and for each consumer who is to be a party to the home improvement contract with a legible printed or a typed version of that person’s name placed directly after or below the signature.” Indiana Code § 24-5-11-10.
If your contractor cannot or will not produce a written contract in compliance with this statute, simply find another contractor. Strict compliance with this statute is the beginning of a good process. The Act contains other protection for homeowners.
A frequent cause of problems are changes in the construction plan after work has begun. Very often the homeowner and contractor have very different ideas about what the changes will cost or how long they will take to complete. If you decide to alter the original plan, insist that you and the contractor sign a memorandum which spells out in detail the cost of the change and how much, if at all, it will delay the completion of the contract. This memorandum must spell out every detail. If your contractor cannot tell you how much the change will cost, you should not proceed with the change.
As you can see, the key to a stress free home improvement process is putting things in writing with as much detail as possible. If you follow this rule, you and your contractor will both understand each other’s expectations.
To vote in Indiana, you must present a photo identification. However, not just any photo identification will work. Your photo identification must meet four requirements: (1) must have your photograph; (2) have your name in a form that is at least substantially similar to how your name appears on the voter registration; (3) have an expiration date that is current or has expired since the last general election (11/2/10); and (4) be issued by the State of Indiana or federal government. An ID issued by a private college will not work.
If you do forget to bring your ID on election day, YOU CAN STILL VOTE. Ask to cast a provision ballot. You must then present your photo ID to the county election board by noon ten days after election day.
There are also exemptions to the photo ID requirement for the indigent and those with a religious objection to having their picture taken. If you fall within one of these exemptions, you will not need to present a photo ID. However, you will need to visit the county election office to affirm that you meet the exemption. You can provide this affirmation while picking up an absentee ballot or after casting a provisional ballot.
I provide free advice to anyone who needs protecting their right to vote. Please contact me if you have any questions.
For many start-ups, the most pressing problem is financing, especially for those businesses without a record of profits. The JOBS (“Jumpstart Our Business Start Ups”) Act of 2012 was signed by President Obama in April and offers a new avenue for entrepreneurs: selling equity via the internet through crowd source funding.
“Crowdsourcing” is an internet technique used in a wide variety of areas. For businesses, the process would allow an entrepreneur to offer an investment in the business to the public through an internet listing. An entrepreneur would list the investment on a crowd source funding web site explaining the investment opportunity. An investor could then act on the opportunity.
Prior to the JOBS Act, an entrepreneur could not utilize this technique because offering an equity investment to the general public would require registration with the SEC. The costs of this registration are very large, making it impractical for a start-up.
The JOBS Act creates a new exemption to the registration requirement for certain crowd funded investments. As you might expect, the investment opportunity must meet a number of qualifications to fall within the exemption. The SEC has not issued the final rules explaining the full requirements for the exemption. However, the SEC is scheduled to meet again on August 29 to consider the issuance of the final rules.
Please contact me if you have questions about crowd source funding or the JOBS Act.
On July 12, 2012, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved the Guardian Accountability and Senior Protection Act (“Act”). The purpose of the legislation is to provide assistance to states in overseeing guardians and conservators. The Act provides funding to the states to study their systems for guardians and conservators and make improvements to their systems. The Act also provides funding to help states improve or create systems for background checks on potential guardians and conservators. The Act now goes to the full Senate for consideration.
If you have a member of your family who has special needs and receives government benefits, you may need to consider adding a special needs trust to your estate plan. For example, a parent with a special needs adult child would want to leave assets to that child. The problem is that leaving assets directly to that child could disqualify the child for government benefits. Government benefits received by the child will be lost if the disabled individual has assets over a certain limit.
The solution to this problem is a special needs trust. The parent can create a special needs trust in the estate plan. The special needs trust would receive the assets after the parent’s death, instead of the disabled individual receiving the assets directly. The assets held by the trust would not count for the asset test to determine eligibility for government benefits. The trustee would be able to use the assets for the special needs individual. A special needs trust can also be established by the parent prior to death and individuals other than the parents can create the trust.
There are a number of technical rules for establishing a special needs trust. You should consult an attorney with knowledge of this area to create one. Please contact me if you would like to set up a free consultation to discuss a special needs trust.
John Adams and Thomas Jefferson both died on July 4, 1826, the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. Adams’ last words were “Thomas Jefferson still survives.” In fact, Jefferson had died earlier in the day.
Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”) states that the federal government will not recognize same sex marriages for purposes of federal law, even if the marriage was celebrated in a state that recognizes same sex marriages. For example, a same sex couple, although legally married in their state, could not file their taxes jointly. In Massachusetts v. Dept. of Health and Human Services, the First Circuit Court of Appeals considered a constitutional challenge to this provision of DOMA by both same sex couples and the state of Massachusetts.
The First Circuit invalidated Section 3 because it violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution. Interestingly, the First Circuit did not utilize a heightened scrutiny standard for its equal protection analysis. The Department of Justice argued that Section 3 should be subject to the intermediate scrutiny standard normally used for gender classifications. By contrast, the proponents of Section 3 argued it should only be subject to rational basis review, a far easier standard to meet. The First Circuit found that Section 3 should be subject to a more stringent review as it subjected a minority group to disparate treatment and invaded the traditional province of the states to regulate marriage.
The Court of Appeals found that moral disapproval of homosexuality was the real purpose of the Section 3. As the decision of the Supreme Court in Lawrence v. Texas (decision that overturned laws criminalizing homosexual sodomy) stated that moral disapproval of homosexuality does not justify discrimination against homosexuals, the First Circuit held that Section 3 violated the Equal Protection Clause.
However, the First Circuit stayed its decision because of the likelihood of Supreme Court review of DOMA. In essence, the First Circuit has invited the Supreme Court to determine the constitutionality of Section 3.
Many small businesses elect to be taxed as an S corporation. The benefit of an S corporation is that it is a pass through entity for corporate tax purposes. The shareholders of the S corporation pay taxes on the profits of the business, but the corporation itself does not pay taxes on its profits. Thus, one level of taxation is eliminated.
However, the Internal Revenue Code places strict limitations on the shareholders of an S corporation. S corporations can only have 100 shareholders or less and only one class of stock. In addition, the owners of the stock are limited to domestic individuals, estates, certain trusts, and certain tax exempt entities.
In Taproot Administrative Services, Inc. v. Comm’r, No. 10-70892, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals considered whether a Roth IRA could be a shareholder in an S corporation. As the gains in a Roth IRA are not taxable, holding S corporation stock in a Roth IRA would eliminate all taxation on the S corporation profits. In the words of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, allowing a Roth IRA to hold S corporation stock would enable “shareholders to employ Roth IRAs to perpetually avoid any taxation on S corporation profits.”
As you might expect, the Ninth Circuit refused to approve this result and held that a Roth IRA does not fit in any of the permissible categories of shareholders in an S corporation. The Ninth Circuit found that a Roth IRA did not qualify as a domestic individual or as one types of trusts which can hold stock in an S corporation. Thus, if a Roth IRA holds stock in a corporation, the corporation would not qualify as an S corporation and would be subject to corporate tax.