His words galvanized his followers and punctuated the civil rights movement in the United States. King’s message of equality and inclusion spread around the world; and no doubt made many people nervous when he talked about the “marvelous new militancy” sweeping across the African American community at the time.
He talked — and “dreamed” — about an America that fullfilled its promise that everyone is created equally and have certain rights that cannot be removed or ignored.
Today, although, much of King’s Dream has been deferred — there is still racism, intolerance and bigotry — his desire remains and lives on in each of us.
On January 16, more than 1,500 people in Toronto are expected to attend a celebration of Dr. King’s Dream. It will be an event filled with music, performance and words.
I am honoured and humbled to be among three people asked to deliver our thoughts on “The Dream Resides in You.”
Dr. King’s dream was ambitious and far-reaching; cutting to the very heart of America and American attitudes on race and poverty. His words inspired a generation to act.
Still, nearly 50 years after that speech in Washington, D.C., we may well wonder how far we have traveled in realizing Dr. King’s dream.
In 1963, the year King spoke at the March on Washington, a public opinion poll found that 56 per cent of Americans believed the race relations problem could be solved.
Forty five years later, the day after Barack Obama won the U.S. presidential elections, that number jumped to 67 per cent.
Perhaps as an indication of reality settling in, polls now indicate that about 55 per cent of Americans are confident the problems of race relations can be solved.
There is much work to be done and it will require an inclusive effort. King said: ” We cannot walk alone. As we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall march ahead. We cannot turn back. “
On January 15, Martin Luther King Jr. would have been 81 years old.