It almost flew by without the fanfare it richly deserves, in a city that is the birthplace of many African American leaders, and has a long history of civil rights victories. Yet, while city officials lacked the same passion and conviction in promoting Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's legacy, on the 45th anniversary of his unfortunate assassination, the way they did the SuperBowl victory of the Baltimore Ravens; local youth carried the torch that was lit by the passion of a monumental and transformational figure – years, and even decades, before these leaders were even born!
The 'We are the Dream' campaign was launched this past week, highlighting the extraordinary work being done by area young leaders, organizations and businesses; marking the beginning of what many believe will be the dawning of a new day here in the City of Baltimore.
A youth collaborative project that has brought various youth groups together that would otherwise have been separated by their varying approaches to social justice; the youth-led campaign now seeks to promote the work being done by the leaders of today – many of whom aren't even old enough to vote!
“A new generation of youth have become so committed to the cause for freedom, justice and equality of all mankind, that they courageously risk their own freedoms to demonstrate their determination – viewing arrest and possible death for the sake of liberation, as a mark of honor!” ~ Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
From the mentoring services of the Incentive Mentoring Program to the issue based activism of the Intersection, the demonstration-led civil disobedience of the Algebra Project to the government-based Baltimore City Youth Commission; Young Leaders from across the city, covering a wide array of services and techniques, have come together around the Dream of one man fifty years ago!
Capitalizing off the words spoken on that historic August day, the 28th day of 1963, when Dr. King and other civil rights leader led a multitude of people onto the steps of the nation's capital in hopes of freedom, justice and equality for all people; the Young Leaders of Baltimore believe that Dr. King's Dream five decades ago, can become the reality of today.
Like Darrell Frazier, a young sophomore at Morgan State University, who was a troubled teen that had lost his brother at a young age and was being raised by a grandmother raising 10-children on her own. He believed at the time that he was destined for failure, but thanks to the innovative techniques, love and compassion of the mentors at IMP, he now aims to change the world – one neighborhood at a time.
Or Shalik Fulton, the Chairman of Baltimore City's Youth Commission, who even his mentors say was a 'touch piece' when he was young, suffering the reality of the mean streets of West Baltimore, before he became a shining example of the potential that lies within all of this city's untapped youth.
Yet, the question remains today that was asked of the younger generation fifty years ago – when will the generation of tomorrow become the leaders of today, by choice or by force?
For it remains far too many elders who remain committed to the suppression of the brilliance locked within the minds of these young leaders, as well as far too many genius youth who remain engaged in a battle of materialistic wealth that will result in nothing but long-term pain and suffering. But when leaders of a like-mind, cut from the same clothe, come together to empower the lives of not only themselves but of those who have yet to come to the understanding of their brilliance; nothing is impossible!
In fact, when you see the reality of their works through action rather than mere rhetoric, you begin to understand that this city is ready for a revolution that hasn't been witnessed since the days of Dr. King!
Looking at the power of persuasion and the unrelenting pursuit of justice by group's such as the Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle, who single-handedly stopped the building a proposed $100 million youth jail; or the alliance of a group like the Intersection, who chose not to allow their voices to be silenced by the older majority, and stepped up to help ensure the passage of the DREAM Act, to see their Latino peers enjoy the same rights and privileges bestowed upon them! That is POWER!
“There is NO greater power on earth than an idea whose time has come!” ~ Victor Hugo
And the reality of these Young Leaders sponsoring a field trip to Dr. King's monument, on the day he was assassinated, to relay the message that the man may have died but his message lives on through them – is POWER! And to follow that trip up with a packed City Hall chambers to award those paving the way for others, who themselves have yet to reach their full potential – is POWER!
For it may not be enough to articulate the leadership exhibited by these Young Leaders, it may have to be proven to these so-called leaders through persuasive actions that allow them to see that if you aren't willing to groom a young leader to take over the reigns of justice at some point, then we just may have to take it from you! And that is real POWER!
A Time to Break the Silence
Delivered by Dr. King on April 4, 1967 – exactly a year before his fateful assassination
“...We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today! We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there is such a thing as being too late! Procrastination is still the thief of time. Life often leaves us standing bare, naked and dejected with a lost opportunity. The 'tide in the affairs of men' does not remain at the flood; it ebbs. We may cry out desperately for time to pause in her passage, but time is deaf to every plea and rushes on. Over the bleached bones and jumbled residue of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words...'Too Late'. There is an invisible book of life that faithfully records our vigilance or our neglect, thus we must move past indecision to action!
If we do not act, we shall surely be dragged down by the long dark and shameful corridors of time, reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight. Now let us begin! Let us rededicate ourselves to the long and bitter – but beautiful – struggle for a new world. Shall we say the odds are too great? Shall we tell them that the struggle is too hard? Or will there be another message, of longing, of hope, of solidarity with their yearnings, of commitment to their cause, whatever the cost? The choice is ours, and though we might prefer it otherwise, we must choose in this crucial moment of human history; right from wrong, good from evil!'
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