Civil Rights leader’s dream remains
alive, demands action to accomplish his vision
|By Sgt. 1st Class, Yolanda Brown, Army News Service
FORT JACKSON, S.C. — It has been nearly 50 years since Dr. Martin Luther
King Jr. delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. This speech
immortalized Dr. King. He became a beacon of hope to all races that have
seen oppression and opposition; a beacon of hope that has fostered
possibilities where they were otherwise deemed as impossible.
In his “I Have a Dream” speech, Dr. King said that although the country
was facing difficulties at the time, he still had a dream — a dream
deeply rooted in the American dream.
It is such a dream that has enabled African Americans to no longer
receive their food in the back of restaurants because they are now
restaurant managers and restaurant chain owners.
It is this dream that has replaced the fear and anxiety that overwhelmed
students who required protection and escorting to and from newly
desegregated schools with a feeling of pride, self-accomplishment, and
Generations past and present are walking through the front doors of
prestigious schools — as students, teachers, principals, college
professors, and as presidents of universities. It is this dream that has
allowed hope to prevail; minorities can dare to dream of becoming CEOs
and presidents of major corporations, dare to dream of owning their own
television network, and even dare to dream of becoming president of the
Even in the military, one can see the progress made toward racial
equality. We are no longer separated within our ranks by the color of
our skin. We are now a band of blood brothers and sisters fighting hand
in hand, willing to lay down our lives for each other.
Soldiers of all races, colors and creeds are fighting in Afghanistan
against oppression based on discrimination of religious beliefs and
This is the self-sacrifice and service to which Dr. King alluded when he
stated, “Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable. .... Every
step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering and
struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated
Soldiers of all ranks can achieve promotions to the next higher grade or
be appointed to the next higher rank or position because of their
potential and qualifications, not because of the color of their skin.
Even within our own Fort Jackson community, we can see an array of
Soldiers and civilians, deriving from all walks of life, working and
training together to meet a common goal.
Although we as a people have made great strides toward establishing
equality and dispelling injustice, we must continue to press toward the
mark and bring the dream to fruition because it is not fully realized.
Where there is inequality in education, there is still much to do; where
there is structural racism that hinders job opportunities and
promotions, creating an imbalance in the scales of economic wealth,
there is still much to do; where there is not equitable, affordable
health care for all, there is still much to do.
Thomas Edison was once quoted as saying: “We shall have no better
conditions in the future if we are satisfied with all those which we
have at present.”
Complacency in our thoughts and in our actions cannot prevail if we are
to have forward movement in realizing Dr. King’s dream.
This year’s theme for the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday
Observance is “Remember! Celebrate! Act! A day on ... not a day off.”
But these words serve as more than just a theme. It is the essence of
the principles of equality and nonviolent social change espoused by Dr.
King and it serves as our pledge to his memory to empower ourselves as
individuals and strengthen our communities.
Remember! Remember the man and his dream. Do not let Dr. King’s service
and sacrifice be no more than a shadow of a memory in our minds. We
should always be aware of his teachings and principles of nonviolence in
all that we do in order to build stronger communities and essentially a
stronger, more tolerable country.
Celebrate! Celebrate Dr. King’s life. Although he is no longer among us,
his spirit and legacy remain. Celebrate in the fact that Dr. King served
as a beacon of light, extinguishing the clouds of darkness that loomed
around in the forms of racial inequality and social injustices.
Act! Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Life’s most persistent and
urgent question is: ‘What are you doing for others?’”
Each year, communities remember Dr. King by coming together on the King
holiday to serve their neighbors and communities. It is important to
keep Dr. King’s legacy of service alive and make service a part of our
(Brown is the 193rd Infantry Brigade Equal Opportunity Adviser and is
stationed at Fort Jackson, S.C.)