As you may or may not know, today is the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous, “I Have A Dream” speech. To this date, there are few speeches that I believe are as incredible as the one Dr. King gave that day. The words and the delivery transcend space and time; the words were powerful then and they are powerful now. I just got done watching it and every time I do, I honestly feel like he was speaking to me, to you, to any and all of us, in every generation.
History is something that I sometimes feel people are unconcerned with. Both their own personal history and world histories; histories of people and places. And I think it is to the detriment of both the individual and the society to render history as unimportant. I think history is the point from which we can cultivate a better future but more importantly, create enjoyment in the present. But history can also be the foundation for building dreams; it can be the foundation for daring to dream.
I do think it is lost on our generation just how difficult the civil rights struggle was. The passage of time and the distractions of media, of technology, of one’s own personal endeavors can interfere with participating in sites of cultural memory. But a struggle it was, and you need only pick up a history book or if you must, Google or YouTube media about any history of struggle or oppressed people. Of the civil rights movement, Dr. King is one of the sung heroes, but he is one of many heroes and heroines – both sung and unsung. These were people who had the courage to believe that they could change the present society around them; they had the courage to believe in something more than what their senses revealed. These were people who had the audacity to believe that their dreams could come true.
People like to play it safe. Most people do anyway. We dream dreams that others have dreamed before, even when we have the capacity to dream wildly, freely, unlimitedly. Sometimes we tell others that their dreams are unrealistic or worse, impossible. And maybe dreams have to be tempered with prudence and an understanding that we are at the end of the day, imperfectly human. But I often wonder: How many people do not dream at all because they don’t believe that they are capable of achieving?
The truth is Dr. King was probably told my many people, that what he wanted for this nation was never going to happen. I’m sure if you talked to someone a hundred years ago, the idea that this society would one day be legally unsegregated would have seemed laughable. And before that, the idea that Black people would no longer be in chains in this country might have seemed laughable too. I am very hard on this country when it comes to race relations because I do believe that we can and should do better. But history reminds us that things have changed; that things do change. And that if we have a dream, a dream that can change anything or anyone, and if we pursue that dream and garner others to pursue it too – there can be incredible change for the better.
We know that we can’t just dream. We know that we must do something about it. We have to create, to write, to pursue, to heal, to get our hands dirty and do what we need to do. We have to be willing to face disappointments, bad choices, failures, and re-starts; and to continue despite the noise in society that will tell you that you can’t. Because dreams aren’t easy. Daring to dream is not easy, not when you’re trying to do something or be something worthwhile. But today, today when we recall that timeless “I Have A Dream” speech, let us be reminded that dreaming and doing can be earth-shatteringly momentous. Let us be reminded that we all ought to dare to dream.