Remembering the Dream: Honoring MLK, Jr.

Posted on Feb 23, 2024

Remembering the Dream: Honoring MLK, Jr.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is remembered as one of the most influential and inspiring leaders in our nation’s history. He was an African-American minister and activist who worked tirelessly for civil rights, organizing peaceful protest rallies and delivering inspirational speeches around the country. He advocated for justice and equality through non-violent, direct means despite facing ongoing threats and even imprisonment.

Dr. King’s speeches and writings reveal how deeply his faith informed his actions. His iconic “I Have a Dream” speech, delivered at the March on Washington in 1963, remains one of the most powerful speeches in American history. Its soaring vision still impacts people today, calling us all to move forward toward the promise of racial equality, healing, and unity.

In these excerpts from a video honoring Dr. King, several Chase Oakers share their own responses to Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. 

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation. – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 

Adrian Jones: Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" speech is iconic.

Brian Hill: So, to have the foresight to know that standing there, right now, that this is going to be a monumental moment in American history–and know that from the very beginning–just speaks to Dr. King and his character.

Darvin Hill: The speech came at a time when America was going through a big change. The African Americans that were in this country were asking for civil rights equality that had not yet been given to them, and that speech set the tone for the civil rights movement that had just begun, but it set it for years to come.

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. – Dr. King 

Erica Wright: So my favorite part is when he talks about these documents that we as Americans kind of hang our hats on: the Emancipation Proclamation, the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence. He describes them like promissory notes.

Darvin: He was asking for a part of what we call the American Dream. Here we are not being able to take part of that, yet being promised in the Constitution that every man was created equal... but there was no equality for the black man.

Carol Ridgeway: My favorite part of the speech is when he talks about having character being your justification, because I think character is more than the outer layer of a person.

 Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. – Dr. King 

Carol: When it comes to drinking from the cup of bitterness and hate, I think that as far as I'm concerned, I think it was right. I think it was right for the time period, and I think it has held on true for us, even today.

Adrian: You're talking about a person whose life was literally threatened and his family's life threatened—at this point, daily—and still his actual thought process was to say to people, "Hey, look, you cannot come from a hatred place. You have to come from a loving place if you want to create any kind of change." That's a powerful message.

Darvin: If there was to be a racial war or people were to go about the change with violence, we wouldn't have survived as a country, and King knew that. We can't achieve this goal by fighting. We can't achieve this goal by hatred. It can only be done by us working together, not just black people, but everyone.

We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal. – Dr. King

Brian: I think today it's still the driving force. Everybody wants to be treated equal, and when you think about what equality looks like, this speech is one of the first things that you think about.

Erica: Two things that came out of his actions in this speech and that are pretty significant are the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act. For me, the Civil Rights Act obviously is very important to me and my family, but the Voting Rights Act is also very, very significant.

Adrian: The opportunity to vote is massive ...That aspect of thinking about it, of I will never have an opportunity to vote for an elected official, I'll never have an opportunity for my voice to be heard, that's demeaning on so many different levels. Not only is it demeaning, it's hurtful and it lasts for generations.

So even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. – Dr. King

Darvin: My dream is for America to come together to continue to work toward the problems that we have, and one way that we see this being done is the work of the church itself, where everyone is welcome, where all cultures, all ethnicities, that is the only way that we can beat hatred is through the message of the cross. 

Erica: When I think of the future, of course, I think of my kids, and I want speeches like his and marches and demonstrations and things like that, not to be necessary.

Carol: My only wish is that on this celebration of MLK, that we take a moment to not only look at the legacy of the man, but look at the power of the human being. And I'm hoping that after this, everyone else will look at themselves and think, what character do I bring to the table that when I leave here, it will live on after me?

Adrian: You know, my dream for the future, we actually have a choice of how do we want to create the change that we want. And so for me, I keep coming back to that place of, "Please, Lord, let me maintain it" ...coming from a loving place and more like coming from a Jesus perspective, because huge change can happen. And Dr. Martin Luther King is a great vessel of that. At the same time, we've all been called to do some of these powerful things, and it's through Christ that we're going to be able to make that happen.

Watch the full video here.

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