'I have a Dream' 50 Years Later That We Will Fight For Our Dreams

(This post has also appeared on the blog of the Kadirgamar Institute)

On this day, 50 years ago a young Negro doctor took the stage in Washington, and delivered a speech that would resonate with people across the world for decades to come. The speech would carve out for Dr. King a place in the annals of history, be oft quoted – and never fail to touch our hearts when we hear it.

The speech holds all the more value for the time in which it was delivered. 1960’s America was a catalyst for change and would later be referred to as the ‘decade that changed the nation. Social barriers were being remolded, reshaped and times were changing never to go back to the way they were before. Beautiful music was being written, from John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ to Bob Dylan’s ‘Blowin’ in the Wind’, right down to the iconic Helen Reddy’s ‘I am Woman’. People, and importantly the youth, were taking their destiny into their own hands, no longer were they willing to wait for their destiny to happen – they were making it happen. The degrading treatment of women, the racial injustices suffered by Negro’s, the pointless war in Vietnam that was costing lives – the people had seen enough and they wanted a change. Technology was going further than anyone could ever have imagined – in 1969 the first men to ever do so would place foot on the moon. This time of turbulent and exciting change often yields some amazing hero’s – such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

On that day, August 28 1963 the world heard words that would resonate with every change maker who ever heard it. It has come to define not just the American dream, but the dream of all human beings. It has come to echo the hope we all carry in our heart – that every human will be “judged by the content of his character and not the colour of his skin” (or their gender, race, religion, sexuality for that matter). In 1964 the Civil Rights Acts was signed – and the revolution had been entrenched. But we must remember while Dr. King was undeniably a hero – and one who lead this great change, he did not do it alone. There are thousands of unsung heroes from this period who made a change, simply by doing what they had to do in their small capacity, in their everyday lives. These little steps walked over and over by thousands of these simple people, have cut a deep clear path upon which we all travel.

These heroes are like you and me. The young woman who defied the sexism she was subject to everyday and went to work – determined to show them she was just as good as a man at her job. The young negro boy, who sat in a nearly all-white classroom; lonely, friendless but determined to get his education against all odds. The white kids, called freaks and ‘nigger-lovers’ who turned against the tide and chose to support this great social change. The youth who were called ‘hippies’ and who turned against their conservative parents to stand up for what they believed in.

The times are changing once again. The winds of social change are blowing and the landscape is being forever altered. We have people standing up to be the Dr King of our time – but the fear is that they lack the backing. We listen to his speech, we admire his efforts – it’s time that shows in the way we live our lives. One doesn’t need to be a fallen hero, a face on the podium, a speaker to the world to do this. What we need to do, is live our lives to reflect the values of human equality and dignity that we profess to believe in. To never turn down and opportunity to right a wrong.

As was said on this day, 50 years ago - “Now is the time to make real the promise of democracy”. The only question is – are we willing to stand up and make it happen?

You can access the full text of the ‘I Have a Dream’ speech by Dr. King here and the audio here.

Comments

Anonymous said…
brilliant writing

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