As the nation comes together to honor the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, I am taken back to a moment in history that helped shape my life and my purpose. I was ten years old living in Arlington, Virginia on August 28, 1963 when Dr. King marched in Washington D.C. and delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. I can vividly remember the astonishment I felt witnessing the crowds of Black people coming together from all over the country to be a part of this moment, the excitement and energy were contagious.
One specific memory that sticks out to me was the hospitality that communities offered throughout this time. Neighborhood churches housed people in their basements. People came together to support one another through a shared vision. It was an impression that I am still left with today. Although I did not actively participate in the march myself, I intently watched the march and speech on my television. A speech so powerful, his vision instantly became my vision, his hope became my hope and his “Dream” now became my dream.
As I sit here today, I realize that the “Dream” has not yet manifested. Media outlets and aspects of everyday life remind us that injustice regarding people of different races, religions and lifestyles is still very much alive. Although I see progress being made, there is significant work we as a nation need to actively do to live out Dr. King’s dream. I’ve questioned if this shared dream is realistic for our country, but then I realize, it is not the dream that should be questioned, more so the expectation of living out the dream. It was my expectation that I would see the dream realized in my lifetime. But it seems now that wiping out injustice, eliminating inequality and watching love win over hate cannot happen in just one generation. Dr. King didn’t live to see it and I won’t live to see it, but perhaps my grandchildren or their grandchildren will.
It is our collective responsibility with the lives we live and the time we have to keep the vision and the hope alive so that one day Dr. King’s dream can become reality. I am encouraged by the many individuals and community organizations continuing the legacy of Dr. King and am fortunate to be a part of a community that is committed to advancing equity.