In August of this year, it will be 60 years since Dr. King delivered his now famous “I Have A Dream…” speech.
I vividly remember watching the TV broadcast in which Dr. King so powerfully shared his dream for America. He said,”I have a dream that one day …right there in Alabama, little black boys and little black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.”
Being a little black girl in Alabama, attending a segregated school, eating in segregated establishments, drinking from segregated water fountains, using segregated bathrooms, and going to segregated movie theaters, amusement parks, and county fairs, the idea of joining hands with little white children was beyond my imagination.
Then in 1967, I was asked by my small black community to be one of 5 black children to integrate Pittman Jr. High School in Hueytown, Alabama.
It was a very difficult time but I made it through, graduating with honors from Hueytown High School in 1972.
Many days over those 5 years I wanted to call it quits, begging my parents to let me go to the “segregated” black school, but my parents answered, “No.” “If you quit, they win,” said my parents as they tried to soothe my uncontrollable tears on the night of Dr. King’s assassination, April 4, 1968.
In looking back, all the tears I shed from the name calling, verbal insults, and physical assaults, were simply the price that had to be paid in order for Dr. King’s dream to be realized.
And now 60 years later, portions of Dr. King’s dream have come true. When I returned for the first time in August 2022 to my 50th high school reunion, many of white classmates were happy to see me, expressing their understanding and regret for the difficult time it was for me, and even an apology for the time when a teacher had me sit at my desk and have my white classmates come around me in single file to touch my hair.
Attending my 50th high school reunion was therapeutic for me and I believe for many of my white classmates. It was an opportunity to bring closure to the past, dance in the present, and imagine a better future.
For me, a better future is a continuation of a dream. Dr. King dreamed that his “four little children will one day…not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”
My dream is that my little black grandson or any child, will not be dependent on leaders in congress and businesses who are the grandchildren of my generation of white classmates to raise the minimum wage to $15 in order to sustain their family.
My dream is that my little black grandson or any child, will not be dependent on leaders in congress who are the grandchildren of my generation of white classmates to debate on ensuring the stability of the social security system, medicare and medicaid.
My dream is that my little black grandson or any child, will not be dependent on anyone other than themselves to have their own “gold” in their golden years.
For this to happen, there is work for us all to do. We can do it. And it all starts with a dream.
What’s your dream?