Ever since I can remember, I’ve taken time to remember Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on his holiday, MLK Day…whether it was a presentation at school, reading about his life, watching the movie, Our Friend, Martin or most recently, working and volunteering with UNC’s MLK Planning Committee and Birthday Celebration.
But on this day, a very different MLK holiday celebration comes to mind. It was a MLK day back when I was probably in middle school. I remember living in our old house in Raleigh and my grandma was with us.
I remember we were in our family room watching Oprah as we did many days with grandma — that was her show — if it was 4pm and we were by a TV, Oprah was going to be on it. But I remember, we were watching Oprah and she had an MLK special on that day (like most people had that day being it was his national holiday.) But it’s what she decided to show that stuck with me.
Unlike most Oprah shows, I don’t remember there being any guests or special giveaways, I just remember her playing not part, not some but the ENTIRE “I Have a Dream Speech.” I think it might have been the first time I heard the whole thing from beginning to end and not in pieces or segments. And it was truly powerful. It was incredible to see his face in that black and white video, to hear his voice bellowing from the Lincoln Memorial and to listen to the words that will echo in history for forever.
That was an MLK day that I won’t forget.
And even though the whole speech is very inspiration and memorable, this part always stands out to me. It’s one of my favorite parts of his speech, it’s like the turning point that has stuck with many of us.
Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends.
And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
And yes, I am working today and not necessarily celebrating MLK’s holiday the way I would have planned, but I’m still blessed to be working because that’s a sign of the times and sign that MLK’s dream is present today and everyday.
So today remember, it’s not a day off but a day on, so do something for someone, no matter how small or how big — it’s the thought that counts.
Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day 2012!
Until next time,