What are we doing to bring Dr. Martin Luther King’s dream to life?

January 20, 2020 6:00 am
King - Selma March

American civil rights campaigner Martin Luther King and his wife Coretta Scott King lead a black voting rights march from Selma, Alabama, to the state capital in Montgomery. (Photo by William Lovelace/Express/Getty Images

As we enter 2020, Americans should reflect on the vision conveyed by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in his “I Have a Dream” speech given August 28, 1963, during the March on Washington. More importantly, we should assess whether that vision is possible and still desirable. If so, then what are we doing to bring it to fruition?

Author and New York Times op-ed contributor Drew Hansen shared that Dr. King was prompted by gospel singer Mahalia Jackson to “Tell them about the dream, Martin.”

As he closed the speech, King went off of the prepared script with:

“I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment, 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 slaveowners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a desert state, sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
I have a dream that my four 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.
I have a dream today.”

Throughout his ministry and leadership of the civil-rights movement, Dr. King often spoke of “The Beloved Community” as the goal of efforts toward a just America and a just world.

In 1956, King proclaimed “the end is reconciliation; the end is redemption; the end is the creation of the Beloved Community. It is this type of spirit and this type of love that can transform the deep gloom of the old age into the exuberant gladness of the new age. It is this love which will bring about miracles in the hearts of men (and women).”

Dr. King’s dream for America was of a nation without racism and discrimination, without poverty and hunger, and without unemployment and homelessness.

He envisioned the Beloved Community as establishing an international norm where “love and trust will triumph over fear and hatred … Peace with justice will prevail over war and conflict.”

As we begin a new decade, our Carlisle, Pa., community continues America’s quest to embrace Dr. King’s commitment to service to others and we celebrate its 31st year commemoration of his birthday.

We gathered on Jan. 19 for a short march in downtown Carlisle to the Old Courthouse for a civic program followed by an ecumenical service at St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church.

Our commemoration committee invites you to be part of this celebration as we seek to create our Beloved Community right here and right now. You can track the work of Carlisle’s community-based committee on Facebook.

Here are some of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day activities you can participate in Monday in Des Moines:

7th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Prayer Breakfast, 7:30-9:30 a.m. at Knapp Center, Drake University in Des Moines.  Doors open at 7 a.m.  More information here.

Martin Luther King Day Celebration, 4-5 p.m. at Forest Avenue Library, featuring keynote speaker Dwana Bradley.  More information here.

MLK Week of Service,  Grand View University, 1200 Grandview Ave., Des Moines, is hosting a week of service.  Events including Keynote Speaker Kameron Middlebrooks at noon and a service project from 1-2 p.m. More information here.

Urban Dreams MLK  Day of Service:  9 a.m. at Urban Dreams, 601 MLK Parkway, sign up to participate in a variety of volunteer tasks. More information here.

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Charles D. Allen
Charles D. Allen

Col. Charles D. Allen, U.S. Army, Ret. is a professor of Leadership and Cultural Studies at the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, Pa.