50 Years Later, We Must Work to Keep the Dream Alive
(Submit an essay below and win $500)
Fifty years to the day after Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered American history’s most famous plea for tolerance, equality and peace, our daily lives are bombarded with stories of bigotry, divisiveness and violence.
Be careful where you look for the causes of our ongoing struggles to live up to Dr. King’s shining example, though. The blame lies not just with the perpetrators of unjust acts, but with all of us who do not heed Dr. King’s call to action.
The “I Have a Dream” speech was more than a litany of grievances; it was a plea for all Americans to set to work making “real the promises of democracy.” That means we all have a role to play in a democracy – even if it’s simply casting your vote in the next election or writing your representative when you see an injustice that needs correcting.
Our great nation has come a long way since 1963. Great victories for justice were won from the Civil Rights movement, and more have been won since. But there is always more work to be done.
All of us must remember the “fierce urgency of now” that was felt at the March on Washington. Every day we need to keep up the struggle and to use the non-violent means Dr. King championed to let freedom ring.
At The Common Good, we phrase it as: Engage. Educate. Empower. But on this golden anniversary of the March on Washington, we’ll borrow Dr. King’s words:
I say to you today, my friends, even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up, live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”
Dr. King’s Dream for Change
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a Baptist minister from Atlanta, was more than just one of the world’s preeminent civil rights leaders. He created huge and historic change in a revolutionary way.
Dr. King did not call for armed resistance to injustice, as was appropriate for our revolutionary forefathers. He exhorted black and white alike to use the call to conscience – through civil disobedience and peaceful protest – to bring equality and fairness to all Americans.
That earned him a Nobel Prize in 1964 and a unique and special place in American history.
Dr. King understood that a great democracy requires the involvement of its citizens. He inspired millions to demand change through many individual acts of protest, speeches, peaceful marches, demonstrations and boycotts.
The great marches King and his followers organized built a movement not only by following in the footsteps of the great American forefathers who demanded freedom and equality for all. His call to conscience also borrowed from Henry David Thoreau, the great American essayist and author of “Walden” who wrote on civil disobedience, and Mahatma Gandhi who independence for India and its people from British colonial rule through peaceful protest.
Dr. King’s movement showed that great change could be accomplished by appealing to what President Abraham Lincoln called “the better angels of our nature” – not just by force.
The Common Good hopes that commemorating Dr. King on the 50th anniversary of his “I Have a Dream” speech will inspire many more Americans to get informed, get involved and make a difference.
Tell us how you Dream
for a chance to win $500!
Pick a quote from Dr. King’s many speeches, remarks or writings and tell us how his work inspires you to participate in our democracy.
The Common Good will publish some of the best essays and will award one winner $500 in prize money.
Submissions must be fewer than 350 words and must be wholly written by the person who enters the competition.
By submitting, you allow The Common Good the right to publish your work and your name.
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