“I say to you today, my friends, 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."
- Excerpt from “I Have a Dream” speech, as delivered by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
As most of us are returning from our 3 day weekend, I stopped to think of how many millions of individuals participated in a “day on, not a day off,” led the way in marches, attended fancy breakfasts, luncheons and church services, all in the name and honor of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. But as I ponder about his legacy, the dreams that he had for us as a nation, and the life that was cut short in the midst of community need, I wonder if Dr. King were here today, what he would think. Would he be happy with the way things have progressed over the past 40 years? Would he think that our race relations were improved? Would he believe that we now loved one another as brothers and sisters?
Or would he be disappointed that his beloved city of Atlanta has a murder rate 4.52 times the national average; that we are 3.3 times more likely to become victims of violent crime than individuals in any of our neighboring states; that nationwide, nearly three times as many minority men live in prison cells than in dorm rooms; that Georgia’s SAT scores rank 47th in the nation, and that our entire educational system ranks 41st overall; that the state of Georgia has the 8th highest teen birth rate in the nation with over 62 new teen pregnancies occurring each day to unmarried girls under the age of 19, causing a rift in the very foundation of “family” that he so fervently promoted; or that despite the lifting of “separate but equal” laws, economic segregation, racial residential segregation, educational segregation and self-motivated social segregation continue to rule our world.
I vacillate between thoughts of whether there has been any progression at all. Then I look around me at the organizations that have been built upon the blood, sweat and tears and hopes of exemplary leaders, which continue to press onward to victory in finding our Xanadu – our beautiful dream world of magnificence and contentment. I simply hope that we are able to reach that place during a lifetime that I am able to see so that I may too be a part of The Dream.
The King Center
Realizing the Dream, Inc.
Southern Christian Leadership Conference
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)
Georgia Campaign for Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention (G-CAPP)
Communities in Schools of Atlanta, Inc.