Today is the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr’s “I Have a Dream” speech. It’s only right and proper for Google to commemorate the event with one of their famous doodles. But when I pulled up Google this morning, I didn’t think of MLK.
As soon as I saw the doodle, it struck me that the speaker looks more like Barack Obama than Martin Luther King, Jr.
Blame it on the ears.
I believe that the ambiguity is intentional. MLK had a dream. Obama has a dream. Google’s trying to tie the past and the present together so that we will all catch the dream too. But are they one and the same dream? There’s some commonalities, but there’s some differences too.
Conflating the two rhetoricians hurts more than it helps, in my estimation. Context is king, and no matter what the talking heads might say, 1963 and 2013 are worlds apart.
I want to honor MLK for his achievements. When Google pretends that we’re in the same place that we were 50 years ago, they’re actually denigrating MLK. They’re claiming that he didn’t manage to change the world. He did. Let’s pause and remember that.
Some people will feel that I’m reading too much into a doodle. Maybe I am. But why must Google hide the face of real change?
[Update: I retract some of the statements made in this post here.]