“So today we have come to cash this new check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.” – Dr. King, 1963
These powerful words echoed the ears and minds of thousands in Washington D.C. in 1963. I stand before you today to honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and to recognize the results of his dream, and finally to raise awareness to the challenges and goals facing our nation’s future.
Over forty years ago, a strong, resilient young Baptist minister, passionately delivered his desire for the future of American civilization. This man heroically fought against racial injustice and discrimination, which plagued the lives of African Americans during the Civil Rights Movement. This prominent leader diligently reinforced the key principles and values he felt would rescue the American society from the rapid floodwaters of racial injustice. He peacefully protested to remove the mask of fear that shadowed the faces of African American people of all ages. These marked faces belong to those hoping and praying for their life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Dr. Martin Luther King had a dream.
If Dr. King were alive today what would his dream be for the future? I think initially he would be speechless and overwhelmed with the great change that is evident in our society. Dr. King would have been at ease of knowing that his children were able to live in a nation where they were not judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. I know that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would be deeply humbled and proud of the nation’s first African American president, President Barack Obama. He would find comfort to know that we have a diverse Congress to oversee the laws that are set for our nation. If Dr. King were alive today, he would be a witness to a new society that fulfills his dreams of unification. Next, Mr. King would challenge our nation to continue to overcome economic issues, financial burdens and global wars facing citizens today. He would boldly invite us as a society to stand even taller and stronger as now a diverse nation.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I come to you today with a message. I am speaking to our sons and daughters all the way to our grandparents. I am also speaking to the students and teachers of our educational systems. It is our duty to shield, encourage and support each other during the heavy rains of these economic times facing our country today. I propose that every generation carry their torch of Dr. Martin Luther King’s eternal flame of his civil rights legacy.
I encourage you to help carry the torch. Help carry the torch of economic recovery, so that jobs can be restored and mothers, fathers and citizens are able to confidently provide for their families. Help carry the torch of new educational and financial opportunities, so that our children and grandchildren can conquer their dreams.
Help carry the torch so that senior citizens and our retired workers will be able to receive the appropriate disability packages and retirement benefits that would allow them to live and rest easier.
Help carry the torch for continued research funding and support for all the diseases that have affected the lives of so many of our American families of all ages, generations and backgrounds.
Help carry the torch to encourage the protection and support for our police officers putting their lives on the line daily to protect our neighborhoods from crime and violence.
Help carry the torch of support for our U.S. soldiers putting their lives on the line to protect our country.
Help carry the torch for leadership. Create leadership roles from all walks of life. We need leadership that mentors our youth that holds the key to our future.
Finally, help carry the torch of freedom, freedom to speak, live and worship. It is the freedom to embrace each of our colorful communities that together make us America the Beautiful.
I leave with you today, with my honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy, and also a reflection of the results of his dream observed today. I challenge you to a new quest, and new responsibilities as U.S. citizens. Carry your part of Dr. King’s torch of freedom and hope. As we reverence Dr. King’s dream, I leave with you a quote from his “Chaos or Community?” Speech delivered in 1967. “Many of the ugly pages of American history have been obscured and forgotten. America owes a debt of justice, which it has only begun to pay. If it loses the will to finish or slacken in its determination, history will recall its crimes and the country that would be great, will lack the most indispensable element of greatness—justice.”
I feel that Mr. King wants us to refrain from getting too at ease with all the fruits of the seeds planted by him and other outstanding leaders throughout our times. He is advising us to celebrate our change, however remember where we have come from. Keep the fight for the full justice of our culture, families and our communities. Do what is needed to make sure that all men and women are created equal, and have a fair opportunity to accomplish everything they seek after in this world. Each new generation holds a responsibility to uphold their fight for freedom and peace in society. If we take these new changes for granted and stop pushing forward towards the prize, then our society will slowly deviate into a backwards track, one without a closure and fulfillment of the original goal and reward of true justice for all.
Editor’s Note: Ms. Roberts graciously sent this her thoughts on the progress we have made with Dr. King’s dream.