What is Today’s Dream
More than 50 years ago a great orator stood in the shadows of our nation’s Capitol and laid out a great vision. This orator spoke of a “dream deeply rooted in the American dream”, and dreamed of a time when a person, “Would be judged not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character”. As he repeatedly used the phrase, “I have a dream this morning”, and laid out for all what that dream was and made us feel what it would be like to realize it, he made us all of one accord, because he made us all want that same dream. He made that dream beautiful.
But he didn’t just make a dream beautiful, he used a dream to fight real fights on behalf of real people. When you look at pictures of posters from marches that Dr. King led, the signs say, “Jobs, Justice, Peace.” Dr. King spoke of a dream but he lobbied for decent jobs at decent wages. In fact when he was killed in Memphis, he was there supporting Memphis Sanitation workers in an effort to get better wages.
Fast forward to today, and the unrest that followed the disturbing deaths of Travon Martin, Michael Brown and Eric Garner, and ask yourself, what unifying message is being sent by those who present themselves as leaders. Out of all the rallies and the die ins, and the shut down the mall efforts, what agenda to move the community as a whole forward, came with this movement?
I feel like we have become the kind of people who just jump on the next thing, and then move on. For weeks we had a high level of action as people expressed their dissatisfaction with the number of Black lives lost to police violence. And now not so much. Did we win something? Did all of the Police violence stop? Or did we just move on to the next thing?
Dr. King tried to find a way to solve the problems of the community. He did not bounce from one idea to another. He created a vision of the world he wanted to help create and spent his entire lifetime chasing after that vision with all that was in him. He did not take the time to enrich himself along the way. He cared so little about money that Harry Belafonte often had to help him with basic living expenses and is said to have paid for his children’s education. It was that kind of commitment that made him so valuable.
A man who cannot be bought is a dangerous man, and a man who can be bought for a million is no better than a man who would sell out for a hundred, we are just negotiating the price, not the principal.
I don’t know that we have recognized leadership in our community any more. There are people who claim the title, and even some the media recognize, but do you see anyone like Dr. King who is so totally committed to the movement, that they literally put the movement before themselves or even their children? I do, but for the most part they are just ordinary folks, not the ones MSNBC wants to highlight and thrust forward as our new national leaders. I keep asking myself was there a vote and I missed it.
As we go to recognize the life and legacy of Dr. King, I think that his style of leadership and his commitment to leadership are two of the things we need to recognize. Furthermore, as we recognize Dr. King, we should hold him up as a role model of what kind of leadership we need today, and if those claiming the mantle are not living up to the model we need to keep looking.
Or at least that’s the way I see it.
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What is Today’s Dream