“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.”
~ Martin Luther King, Jr., Speech at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom
Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his ’I Have a Dream’ speech nearly 60 years ago during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Today, his powerful words live on, inspiring yet another generation to become antiracists. During his all too short life, Dr. King helped end segregation in the United States and mobilized thousands of people to help eliminate unfair practices throughout the nation that negatively affected the Black community. On the third Monday of January, we take time to reflect on Dr. King’s unparalleled contributions to advancing racial and social justice, and to reflect on our own journey in advancing equity both professionally and personally.
Often people forget that Dr. King’s speech at the March on Washington was just as much about a world without racism as it was a dialogue in fairness and economic justice. Like Dr. King, we share a common goal of building a more inclusive and equitable future. At Children’s Home and Aid, we strive to live up to Dr. King’s aspirations in our actions year-round as we work tirelessly to find solutions for families and help them navigate often ineffective systems that can be judgmental, unjust and unfair. It is in our daily interactions with families and children that we see how these systemic deficiencies can shape the way a person sees and values themselves over time, undermining their potential to be the best possible version of themselves. This kind of trauma has left generational scars, but we aspire to tackle the root causes of poverty, neglect and abuse by using our Blueprint for Impact as a rally cry for investing in families to break this cycle, knowing this is a clear road to thriving children and strong, healthy communities.
As we get ready to observe Martin Luther King Jr. Day on January 17th, we cannot ignore the sobering reality that there are still very real barriers to achieving racial and economic equity in the United States, and that divisions within in our society are making candid conversations about this reality increasingly difficult. But we have the opportunity to lead with our actions.
“Now it means sacrificing, yes, it means sacrificing at points. But there are some things that we’ve got to learn to sacrifice for. And we’ve got to come to the point that we are determined not to accept a lot of things that we have been accepting in the past.”
~ Martin Luther King Jr., Speech at the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955
So, how do we nurture hope when there is no shortage of violence, discrimination, and systemic inequalities everywhere we look? I cannot help but think about what Dr. King might advise as we grapple with these challenges, navigate the ongoing pandemic, and live through the societal damage caused by political polarization.
The King Center’s chosen theme for this year’s observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day provides some answers: IT STARTS WITH ME: Shifting Priorities to Create the Beloved Community. This is a clarion call to everyone who believes in fairness and believes in ending racism. It’s a call that says that we all have the capacity to be transformational leaders in our own way. Surely it must have felt like a setback when, 100 years after the Emancipation Proclamation, Dr. King was still traveling across the country to make the case for basic rights for Black, Brown and all Americans. However, like Dr. King, we are not here to do the easy work and we will not give up until change has come, especially for our young people. We will work alongside families and inside his legacy to take care of our neighbors, no matter their difference.
Dr. King’s message of unity, justice and the power of relationships resonates now more than ever as we weather unprecedented challenges in doing this work together. He made it clear that it would take all of us in cooperation, even those we might disagree with, to bridge the divide with intentional purpose if we want to flourish alongside one another with dignity, respect, and kindness. It takes an open mind and heart to make a choice to be vulnerable, ask tough questions, and listen with humility. At Children’s Home & Aid, we’re doing just that as we empower individuals, strengthen families, and move one step closer each day to realizing Dr. King’s vision of a “Beloved Community.” We hope you’ll join us on this journey.
“After contemplation, I conclude that this award, which I receive on behalf of that movement, is a profound recognition that nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral questions of our time: the need for man to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to violence and oppression.”
~ Martin Luther King Jr. upon accepting the Nobel Peace Prize
On Monday, January 17th, I encourage you to not only celebrate and remember Dr. King’s achievements, but also to take time to reflect on and better understand how civil rights issues continue to impact communities of color today. I invite you to check out the curated list of information and resources on this page to learn more about Martin Luther King Jr. and find your own unique way to honor this day of service, celebration, and community activism.
Resources to further your learning and engagement:
- Virtual Beloved Community Global Youth Summit
- Learn more about the incredible life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.
- Read about Dr. King’s philosophy: NonViolence365
- Please do some googling and see if you can source any additional high-quality readings/resources to share/link in this list.
Watch the 2022 Beloved Community Global Summit:
Hosted by the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change, this annual summit features messages from Dr. Bernice A. King, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Vanessa Nakate, Ari Berman, Cliff Albright, Professor Irshad Manji, Zanagee Artis, Dr. Neal Lester, Jill Savitt, Dr. Vonnetta L. West, Michael Akinyele, Dr. Jacqueline Battalora, Sayu Bhjowani, Audra McDonald, Michael Tubbs, Dr. Loretta J. Ross, Drue Kataoka, Rev. Lennox Yearwood, Jr., Fizza Qureshi, Freddy Mutanghua, Esther Anne, Ashley D. Bell, and more.