Today marks the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his unifying “I Have a Dream” speech on August 28, 1963. This defining moment in history was one of the many catalysts that afforded many Americans, such as myself, the privilege of reading about the unspeakable acts of racism, instead of experiencing it.
I can sit anywhere on a bus. I can go to non-segregated water fountains, bathrooms, schools, restaurants, and swimming pools. I don’t have to worry about being lynched or beaten. I don’t have to fear being hosed down while practicing my constitutional right to protest. I don’t have to worry about serious repercussions for being involved in an interracial relationship. I am truly grateful for these freedoms, and the sacrifices that Dr. King, activists, and everyday people have made to help create this reality.
Despite the progress and achievements, I can’t wholeheartedly say that I’m not judged by the color of my skin, but by the content of my character. Being born in the 80’s, I should have a more positive outlook on certain issues – but I don’t. I initially feared that President Barack Obama wouldn’t win his first presidential election solely because he is black, and if he won, he would be assassinated. Many people don’t like to admit it, but these repulsive scenarios are still very real 50 years after MLK’s speech.
Where is my skepticism coming from? Why is someone who has only seen “whites only” signs in history books and documentaries, have so much mistrust? It’s because Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream Speech” has not completely come into fruition. I often deal with racism, but it’s usually concealed. Most of the time, I try not to think about it so my heart won’t fill with anger. The danger in subliminal racism is that its’ existence can easily be denied; therefore, change never happens. I decided to give my version of Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream Speech” with some of my experiences 50 years after he gave his speech. I am not even attempting to be prolific like Dr. King, but simply want to convey how this speech is still relevant in my world.
I Have a Dream 2013
“I have a dream that I can enter a nice neighborhood and people will believe that I live there, and not profile me and follow me home (it happened to me). I have a dream that I won’t be treated like a thief when I misplace my receipt when returning/exchanging an item at the store. I have a dream that people won’t assume that I didn’t go to college or that I have children. I have a dream that the black youth will have the freedom to wear any type of clothing in their closet, without it giving people the urge to shoot them. I have a dream people will stop treating me like a stereotype and/or a statistic.
I have a dream that people will stop pretending that racism doesn’t exist. I have a dream that the justice system will finally be colorblind. I have a dream that racism, whether blatant or covert will be an ancient concept. I have a dream that one day, people will realize that concealed racism in any form is painful. I have a dream that I won’t have to write articles like this.
I have a dream that all races will finally realize that they belong to something bigger – the human race.”
There is a reason why Dr. King made stated, “1963 is not an end, but a beginning,” in his “I Have a Dream” speech. He anticipated the long journey ahead, and what Americans would have to endure to reach the destination he dreamed of. I welcome everyone to join me in hopes of finally chanting, “Free at last, free at last. Thank God almighty, we are free at last!”
Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.