Today brings me back to the day when I first heard of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. As far as my mind can remember, I was in first grade creatively coloring the face of a handsome man with a brown crayon. My teacher cleverly didn’t tell us which color to color his face in but she simply said, “This man was a man with great power, intelligent, kind, and wise. If you can pick one color, what would that color be?” So we all pick a color from the the plastic cup at her desk. We silently worked at our masterpiece. After about twenty minutes, we were asked to hold up our photo’s. I was a bit taken aback to see that out of a predominately black student class, only six of us had chosen a brown or black crayon. The rest of the class, a total of nineteen students, either colored him with a peach, yellow or white crayon.
My teacher asked the class do we know who this man was or recognized him from anywhere, we all shook our heads no. She then told us that this brilliant man was indeed a Black man. I remember her taking the whole day to talk about him. She began to tell us what kind of environment he was raised in and the mindset of people of his time. She told us he grew up to be a man of God, a great speaker, and a believer of peace and equality for the unjust done to the Black communities.
“I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream…a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”
She read this famous quote of Dr. King at the Lincoln Memorial Center in August 1963 in front of more than 200,000 people.. Since that day the words “I have a dream” have become the symbol of Martin Luther King Jr., and his nonviolent efforts to secure justice for black Americans.
It was King’s leadership that inspired SCLC’s nonviolent policy. King based his philosophy on the teachings of Jesus and those of the Indian leader Mohandas Gandhi. To those who opposed SCLC’s efforts, King said: “We will match your capacity to inflict suffering with our capacity to endure suffering…. We will not hate you, but we cannot…obey your unjust laws…we will so appeal to your heart and conscience that we will win you in the process.” These words summed up King’s philosophy. His pursuit of justice won him the Nobel peace prize in 1964.
I am happy that my White teacher deemed it necessary for her class to learn about this great man. She told us Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was indeed more than a dreamer. He created hope among a community. He aspired everyone to be someone greater. An individual who fought all odds. Though he was brutally assassinated, his legacy lives on today. In my eyes, my six year old mind, he is a hero….a superhero.
Here is his “I have a Dream” speech:
Written By: Judith Jacques