Growing up, Martin Luther King, Jr. and I would often share a birthday, and I felt a special connection to him, and not just because I got the day off. His words struck me; even in my grammar school days, I remember hearing his speech and being curious why he had to say he had a dream that "little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers".
"Why wouldn't the boys and girls hold hands?" I would think. The innocence of a child.
But as I got older, and I learned the harsh realities that other human beings have lived through, I felt an even stronger admiration for Martin Luther King, Jr. that he had the courage, the wisdom, the strength to speak out, to transform our country and the world.
I know that each and every single one of us, regardless of race, age, size, color, economic status- every single one of us has a story, has a history, has something to offer, something to give, to teach. I believe that our dreams should serve others, not simply ourselves. We are all connected, we are all important, each an integral piece of the puzzle. Martin Luther King, Jr. had dreams that he put into motion- they served millions of lives, and his words are still a catalyst for change.
Thank you is not enough. One day off from work or school is not enough. We must love and accept each other without judgment. We must "be" the change that Martin Luther King, Jr. paved the way for just 5 decades ago.
What dreams do you have? How will your dreams serve a purpose beyond yourself? What will you do today to take a step toward your dream?
Below is Just a Snippet of Some of the Wise Words from Martin Luther King, Jr.:
"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction...the chain reaction of evil--hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars--must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation." ~Martin Luther King, Jr., Strength To Love, 1963.
"Success, recognition, and conformity are the bywords of the modern world where everyone seems to crave the anesthetizing security of being identified with the majority." ~ Martin Luther King, Jr., Strength to Love, 1963.
"A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death." ~ Martin Luther King, Jr., Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?, 1967.
Below is An Excerpt from "I Have a Dream" by Martin Luther King, Jr, delivered August 28th, 1963, at the Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C:
"And 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, and 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."2
This is our hope, and 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.
And this will be the day -- this will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with 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.
And 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 snow-capped 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 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!"