With the hope that each new year brings, this is the time of year that I have the wonderful opportunity to listen to elementary students compete in an oratory contest reciting the iconic “I Have a Dream” speech.
As you may know, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered this speech during the March on Washington for jobs and freedom on Aug. 28, 1963. Dr. King chose to use the Lincoln Memorial as a backdrop for this historic address, standing before a crowd of more than a quarter of a million people.
His words challenged African Americans and white people to stand together for equal rights. His call for unity between all people may be even more powerful today than on the day he spoke them.
Dr. King’s firm belief in racial equality, civil rights and justice for all was part of what made his speech so compelling. Because he believed in the power of his cause and the beauty of a better America, we, too, must become drum majors and take up this important work. As an educator, I firmly believe we can fulfill his dream of racial equity and justice for all people.
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We’re living in unprecedented times. Our world needs to be reminded of his eloquent dream.
While I listened to the students’ recitation of that 60-year-old speech, their voices, optimism, intelligence and fervor reminds us that we must continue to serve as leaders and model the behaviors identified in his speech.
As Dr. King said, “The time is always right to do what is right,” and, “We must meet the forces of hate with the power of love.”
As a diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging trainer, I often begin each session with a self-assessment. Participants are encouraged to embrace their current state of truth.
However, Dr. King says it best: “We need to pursue the truth within ourselves! We need to continue to fight for what is right and have compassion and faith for one another.”
Our young people give me hope. It is pleasing to close my eyes and listen to their interpretation of Dr. King’s dream, and that it is, indeed, for all. His words resonate through time and remind us: “Our ‘Americanness’ is not enough. We must be united. Believe. Be real. Be you.”