Forty-eight years ago, the United States was a different place; it wasn’t the world I’ve grown up in, it was time of massive change and steady progress.
As a 20-something young adult, I’m sure some people may wonder what does Dr. King’s message really mean. I’m only 22…how could such a speech, a moment, and a person mean anything to my life; especially now, when conversations are screen-to-screen and not face-to-face and our revolutions are digital on cyber battlefield — it’s different to say the least.
But this Sunday marks more than just the anniversary of an important speech we’re learned about in school or a history fact that I should remember for years to come. This Sunday marks the celebration of historic turning point…a moment of progression…even for me, the 20-something young dreamer of the 21st century.
More than half a century ago, I wasn’t even a thought but Dr. King’s words still run deep in my veins and in the corridors of my life. I’m one of the little girls Dr. King talked about his speech about a dream that he hoped would come true. I’m one of those little girls who wanted to be judged by her character and not the color of her skin. I’m one of those little girls, the daughter of a former slave, who wants to one sit at the table of sisterhood with a daughter of a former slave owner.
Sadly, I feel like I’m still waiting but this Sunday reminds me that I’m moving one step closer to that table.
The MLK Memorial will be a symbol of hope for the future but a reminder of the past. I hope Dr. King’s new presence in the District will inspire and influence others like myself to strive for change because Martin’s dream is still not complete; we have a lot of work to do. And it’s work that we’ll have to do together as young and old…as black and white.
Where we are today is better than the days of my parents youth when my father was growing up in rural North Carolina with ‘Colored Only’ signs and my mother was taking trips down south with my grandmother to help teach students who couldn’t go to school. Yes, times have changed since their childhood and adulthood but we’re still not there yet.
Like most of my peers, I don’t fully understand what life was like during the heat of the Civil Rights Movement but I know how to admire the strength and courage that was demonstrated by protesters my age or younger.
This Sunday, as I walk through the MLK Memorial, I’ll take a moment to remember the soldiers who fought for me and even died for me so I can live the life I’m living today. But I’ll do one more thing, I’ll make sure this visit isn’t just another visit to Washington monument but a time to really reflect and ponder change.
As this weekend inches closer, I find it ironic that the 48th anniversary of his “I Have a Dream” speech and the day of his memorial dedication fall on a Sunday. It’s a day that is commonly associated with family, coming together and peaceful reflection of the past. Sounds a lot like Dr. King’s dream to me and what a fitting day to move one step closer to the table of brother and sisterhood. His message still lives on today and this weekend will be a good reminder of what his message represented…a world that is willing to forgive and move forward.
Until next time,
***You can also see this piece on Roland Martin’s website dedicated to the MLK Memorial Coverage. See it here.