By Jim Hamilton, J.D., LL.M.
I once heard Alabama federal district judge (later named to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals) Frank Johnson Jr. caution people not to think that federal judges decide momentous civil rights cases every day. Most of the work of federal judges, he said, consists of interpreting arcane federal regulations and U.S. code provisions. Frank Johnson Jr. was the federal judge in the Rosa Parks case, which changed the history of the South and the entire U.S. So, every once in a while, I have to leave the arcane world of securities regulation to mention something more momentous.
Today is the anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s "I have a dream" speech. It envisions a world and a South where, in Dr. King’s words, "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.’’
There is a New South today, and there are many to thank for it: President Jimmy Carter, Senator Claude Pepper of Florida - and dare I mention Governor and later Senator Terry Sanford of North Carolina? Yes, I do dare because he was a great man also.
But if the New South has a father, it has to be Dr. King. When I drive past the new gleaming auto plants and Siemens plants in South Carolina and Georgia and see the sign announcing a new $1 billion VW plant in Tennessee, I think how Dr. King made it all possible. Yes, he did. Because no global company, not Nissan, not BMW not Seimens, would ever have come and built large new plants in a segregated South. That would never have happened, and that is the God’s truth.
So, on the anniversary of "I have a dream," let us pause to honor Dr. King. Tomorrow, we return to the arcane world of securities regulation.