Yesterday marked the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream Speech." As President Obama remarked "His words belong to the ages, possessing a power and prophecy unmatched in our time."
A hash tag #DreamDay appeared on Twitter as people everywhere expressed their dreams. Those dreams were not for personal gain or more things, they were dreams for the world. Dreams of peace, equality, hope, and an end to hunger. One of my favorites was from Rosabeth Moss Kanter, a Harvard professor who wrote:
"It takes as much energy to dream small as to dream big, so might as well dream big... And speak of dreams to act on".
Do you have a dream? A dream to act on? It was an inspiring day to be reminded that only in America can we dream and only in America is it possible to make the biggest of dreams come true.
March for Jobs
The celebration yesterday was also a reminder of what the original purpose of the March on Washington was about 50 years ago. It was a march for jobs. These are President Obama's words:
" . . . the men and women who gathered 50 years ago were not there in search of some abstract idea. They were there seeking jobs as well as justice not just the absence of oppression but the presence of economic opportunity. For what does it profit a man, Dr. King would ask, to sit at an integrated lunch counter if he can't afford the meal?"
"This idea -- that one's liberty is linked to one's livelihood, that the pursuit of happiness requires the dignity of work, the skills to find work, decent pay, some measure of material security -- this idea was not new."
Fifty years ago hundreds of thousands marched for jobs and for a shot at the American Dream. Not much has changed. While our economy is different and our country is different, what every family dreams of for themselves, and for their children, is a fair chance to earn a decent living, a safe place to live, access to healthcare and security in their old age.
Jobs are still hard to come by for far too many. Higher education has become almost an absolute requirement to succeed in this new economy and find a path to security and the pursuit of happiness, and the path is not always easy and we must find the courage to move forward.
The President asked us to remember the courage of those who marched a half century ago. That we become marchers in our own way. He sees those marchers every day.
"That tireless teacher who gets to class early and stays late and dips into her own pocket to buy supplies because she believes that every child is her charge -- she's marching. That successful businessman who doesn't have to, but pays his workers a fair wage and then offers a shot to a man, maybe an ex-con, who's down on his luck -- he's marching."
"The mother who pours her love into her daughter so that she grows up with the confidence to walk through the same doors as anybody's son -- she's marching. The battle-scarred veterans who devote themselves not only to helping their fellow warriors stand again and walk again and run again, but to keep serving their country when they come home -- they are marching."
So as the summer draws to a close and a new school year starts for many, think about what you can do to keep this dream alive. Work harder, give back, make a difference, no matter how small and dare to dream.....and you too will be marching toward something greater.
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