Today is a special day, a very special day. A mere fifty years ago, on August 28, 1963, in the symbolic shadow of a great American President who five scores prior had signed the Emancipation Proclamation, stood another American hero to offer the nation a Dream. A dream to let freedom ring, a dream that one day we will live out the true meaning of our creed that “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”
I love American and civil rights history. To the point that I took a civil rights law course in grad school, carry with me a pocket version of the US Constitution, and consider a personally autographed copy of civil rights activist and US Congressman John Lewis' memoir my most cherished possession. (John Lewis actually introduced Dr. King on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and was that day's youngest speaker at a meager 23, as Chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.)
Close your eyes and listen to Dr. King – his cadence, his tone, his choice of words (read it closely, people don’t speak like that anymore) – your eyes well-up and chills run down your spine, every time. If there is one moment, one electrifying, transformative moment in history I could go back in time to witness, it would be the March on Washington. It is the definition of the human spirit and the undying pursuit of a justice.
Despite most, if not all of us, not having witnessed that momentous Wednesday afternoon, we should all take pride in the opportunity we have in front of us to contribute to a similar dream: to unlock the potential inside everyone and help improve the human condition. When you take pause and think about it, it is quite sobering. For we are working toward a day where kids will be born safe together; celebrate fifth birthdays together; learn and graduate together; earn a living together; provide for their families together; be happy together; realize their own dreams together.
The sheer impact of that one man, that one dream is phenomenal. From Lincoln and Gandhiji to Reverend King and Mandela, I am still waiting for that one person who can spark a true movement and march toward equity in health, poverty, education. Perhaps – dare I say – it is a humanitarian couple.
On this very special day, I hope we all reflect and think about ways to bring life to our cause, the same way millions of Americans did to the cause of freedom. For it would be indeed “be fatal for the nation [and the world] to overlook the urgency of the moment. And now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children” … no matter where they live.
Be inspired: check out NBC News #DreamDay (where you can watch Bill and Melinda Gates); browse great anniversary coverage by TIME Magazine; pick up a copy of John Lewis’ Walking with the Wind: A Memoir of the Movement; and most important, serve in honor of Dr. King.