I was a 12 year old when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. led the March on Washington and delivered his “I Have A Dream” speech.
On August 28, 1963, as I turned on our TV, approximately 250,000 people gathered in front of the Lincoln Memorial and the Reflecting Pool in Washington, DC to hear Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. speak. The rest of us, numbering in the millions, listened on the radio and watched on television.
As a child I visited my grandmother and her husband in Oakland, California on Sundays after church. As an 8th grader, I was no stranger to outstanding preachers and beautiful gospel music. But Dr. King’s words, still so moving and relevant fifty years later, did something no other preacher had ever done before.. He not only spoke truth to power. He lifted us up – all races, genders and creeds – to the mountain top to see what we are collectively called to do in our life time. Dr. King gave the nation and it’s citizens a spiritual and moral Call to Action – one that continues to guide me to this very day.
Dr. King’s I Have A Dream speech is considered to be one of the great pieces of oratory of the 20th Century. Perhaps the greatest. I remember hearing it like it was yesterday. As Dr. King spoke, I was deeply moved by his intelligence, wisdom and courage, awed by the truth and beauty in his words, and transfixed by the speech’s powerful cadence.
He was an eloquent speaker, peaceful visionary, inspirational leader, gifted storyteller and passionate preacher/teacher all rolled into one. I appreciated the way he first he painted a realistic picture of the injustices black Americans faced and the role the government played in preventing all it’s citizens from attaining freedom and equality. He reminded us that equality, opportunity and freedom are American ideals, belonging to no singular demographic.
Then he moved on to help us visualize a better America. He did it simply but with such imagery, passion and skill. He shared his dream…
When he said, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will be judged not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character”, I could actually see it. When he went on to say, “So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York…” the picture was crystal clear. I was watching Dr. King on a black and white TV but the images he was painting with his heartfelt words came through in living color.
I am forever grateful to Dr. King. He was the greatest human rights activist of our time. His peaceful actions and powerful leadership inspired millions of us to dream.
My dream is to inspire a Re-Envisioning of Foster Care in America. As we celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs & Freedom, I find myself wanting to write an awe inspiring speech that acts as a catalyst and rouses all Americans to actively support our nation’s half million children in foster care. So far, I only have a rough draft:
I have a dream. That all our children in America are…
-Cherished and honored from the moment they are born.
-Rooted in healthy families and caring communities that invest in their health and well-being.
-Given equal rights and equal protection under the law as well as equal consideration in our communities.
I have a dream … That all children placed in our public foster care system will one day reside in a nation where they are given every opportunity to live healthy and productive lives.
I have a dream … That all Americans will stand together under the Banner of Shared Responsibility to reduce the number of youth who are “aging out” of our public foster care system from 25,000 annually to zero.
I have a dream … That Americans of all ages and backgrounds will dismantle the foster care pipeline that leads to the next generation of poor and homeless Americans.
I have a dream … That the Re-Envisioning Foster Care in America Movement will become a stellar social justice collective, like the one that Dr. King created for the Civil Rights Movement.
Thank you Dr. King. Your vision will always guide me.