Today is the day we honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and celebrate his Dream. Dr. King was a civil rights leader and he delivered the iconic speech, “I Have a Dream” on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. I must honor Dr. King, because as an African-American woman I wouldn’t be able to voice my opinion right now without his work and the work of other important Civil Rights leaders. We have achieved some of what Dr. King spoke about, but his dream went far beyond the civil rights. He had a vision for all people that we have yet to achieve.
“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.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
The Dream was for us as a people to accept our differences and see our commonalities. He wanted to erase the fear and for us to see that we are all the same. He wanted our children to play together without knowledge or understanding of skin colors. He wanted all of us to have access to the same tools, resources and opportunities. Dr. King talked about more than race. He talked about all of us working together for the greater good. We have not achieved his Dream.
Our children may play together, but there may come a point where they will be made aware of their differences. Many of our neighborhoods, schools, music, movies and television shows still remain separate and less than equal. It’s not only by race anymore, but also by class. This past summer saw the Occupy movement created to address the gap between the haves and the rest of us. We have not achieved his Dream.
Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Many people thought that electing an African-American President meant that we had achieved the Dream. They thought that it meant that we were finally able to see someone for the content of his character. Following his election, we have watched nothing but discord and outrageous behavior instead of dignified acceptance and a willingness towards teamwork to solve the problems of all people. We have not achieved his Dream.
Dr. King wanted us all to realize that we want the same things in life. He hoped that love would prevail and eventually people would see that we are all seeking happiness. All of us worry about our children and their futures. All of us want to keep a roof over our head. All of us want to feel safe in our homes. All of us want to be able to sustain our lives and provide for our families. All of us want love. Despite the color of our skin and our cultural expressions, we are all the same. In order to achieve Dr. King’s dream, it requires us not to lean on prejudice or justify racism, but to expect more of ourselves. It requires us to look deeper than the body and into the soul, there we can find our commonality.
Today as we honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., let’s be reminded of what his Dream was and how much work we still have to do to achieve it. We don’t see it modeled in our government or on our television screens, but that doesn’t mean we are powerless to create it. It is the collective mindset that creates change. We all have a choice of what we will accept and expect from ourselves and others. We can achieve the Dream. We have to let go of what was and what has been. We can choose love instead. If you love yourself and see yourself in everyone you meet, there is no room for hate.
He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.