Whether we can recite bits of Dr. Martin Luther King’s famous “I Have a Dream Speech” or simply understand the cultural and historical weight it carries, most Americans are familiar with the ideology of Dr. King and most Americans understand what it means to have a dream. Most Americans understand the necessity and urgency of freedom and the desire to cultivate a sense of the American Dream and what it means to each person and how individual dreams are threads in the collective blanket of co-existence.
With that being said, we can continue to learn a lot about what it means to be personable, to be understanding, and to be empathetic to those around us from Dr. Martin Luther King’s famous words. The speech continues to speak to the essence of humanity. This essence shows us what it means to be a part of a culture and space in time that allows us to participate in a society that makes a way for individuality and acceptance.
“We cannot walk alone.”
Dr. Martin Luther King’s speech reminds us that each of our futures is tied together. Therefore, if we oppress one, we oppress all. In a contested world where we find ourselves at odds with our fellow man – whether it be political, social, or educational – we must appreciate the differences in each other and meet each other where we are. Furthermore, when Dr. King said, “We cannot walk alone,” he meant that we must carry each other through times of distress but also rejoice together in times of joy.
“…black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the ‘unalienable rights’ of ‘Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.’”
As citizens, it is our civic duty to treat each other as equals to guarantee a peaceful society. America was founded on this idea. There is a sense of security in justice for all and this leads to a place of social rest in a society where we find ourselves in constant unrest. The ideals of the constitution should be regarded as more than skin deep and reach into the fabric of America. King simply wanted all people, regardless of color and gender, to be able to not just exist, but thrive together as promised by the constitution to all citizens.
“We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline.”
As we progress throughout 2023 and look to all of the changes that await us politically, personally, and those we are yet to know, we must remember that we are people first and ideas second. We must remember that to show true acceptance, we must conduct ourselves with respect, honor, and discipline, just as Dr. King exhibited through his fight for civil rights, not just for one group, but for all people.
Although Dr. King gave his famous speech over fifty years ago, the message is still valid today as we celebrate Black History Month. His speech urges us to be respectful of the ideas and values of others while also embracing the thoughts and ways of life of others. Dr. King stands as an eternal model of strength, freedom, and the possibility of holding on to a moral and just society.