Today we celebrate Martin Luther King Day and I want to honor the man who asked us to search within ourselves to see all people, created in God’s image whether black, white, red, yellow, male or female and asks us to treat each other with respect and love regardless of their skin color. How are we doing in this endeavor to answer his call to action in his dream speech?
This is why I am sharing an excerpt of the “I Have a Dream Speech” by King to once again remind us that the dream still awaits to be fulfilled for many Black Americans. I grew up in rural white America with little or no concern or knowledge of the struggles discussed in King’s message. That was a world far away. As a child, the closest I came to being able to identify with children who were different than me was in a childhood song that goes like this:
Jesus loves the little children,
All the children of the world,
Red and yellow black and white,
They are precious in his sight,
Jesus loves the little children of the world.
What I learned in Sunday School is that Jesus loves little children! He said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." (Matt. 19:14) He didn’t differentiate between colors, races or genders. He just loves children and as he continues to show throughout the gospel texts, that he loves people. Shouldn’t we do the same? If we, as Christians, believe Jesus is the great example and teacher, then shouldn’t we follow his example and teaching to love all people?
Please read this excerpt of King’s speech again and commit to answering his challenges and help fulfill his dream of equality for all people.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
I Have a Dream
(Delivered 28 August 1963, at the Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.)
…Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends.
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."
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, and 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!