“I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.”
~ From Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech
Today we celebrate the life and work of Martin Luther King, Jr., one of my favorite figures from our country’s history. His legacy resounds with me for two reasons.
He addressed the glaring issue of racism, knowing that it would invite fierce opposition. We don’t like to acknowledge how deeply racism has scarred American history, but there have been many injustices small and great, based solely on the color of skin. King stepped in and began to dig up what had become very hardened ground in the hearts of American citizens, and he did so with a courage that few possessed.
Second, he motivated us to envision and strive for a different kind of America. King’s challenge remains strong today: release your lazy intellectual stereotypes. Start looking at people as individuals, instead of categorizing them based on superficial standards.
Racism is much easier than love. If I can group a person into a class and label that entire class, I no longer have to decide how to love them. It’s automatic. We say, “Oh, she’s one of those people,” and move on. No thought or effort required.
I appreciate the way King’s message pushed all of us, regardless of skin color, to take the hard path of love, to rise out of our stereotypes, and to begin to see each other as people bathed in the image of God.
Take 18 minutes this week to watch King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, and consider again how we can make that dream our own.