As a child, I never really knew anything about Martin Luther King, Jr. I knew that he was a black man and that he fought for human rights but, to be honest, I didn't really pay that much attention because it didn't really effect me. While I didn't grow up in the '60's and have no recollection at all of segregation (Thank God), I never really gave MLK or his cause any thought.
As a college student, I had to study his speeches, the man, and his mission and I realized that his speeches, while directed at the turmoil of the time, were pertinent for all people fighting for their civil rights.
As a teacher, I was excited to teach MLK to my students. We watched his speeches, read articles on his life, and sadly, his death. Because I taught in a culturally diverse school, I was proud to teach these students that MLK Day was about more than just a day off from school.
As a parent, though, the speeches have more meaning. I look at the world now in terms of my children and their quality of life. I cannot imagine having a child and knowing that they would not be able to live out their dreams because of the color of their skin. I can feel the meaning behind the words:
"I have 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."
I want to teach my children to stand up for what is right, even if they are the only ones standing.
"The hottest place in Hell is reserved for those who remain neutral in times of great moral conflict."
I want to teach my children to dream, to hope.
"If you lose hope, somehow you lose the vitality that keeps life moving, you lose that courage to be, that quality that helps you to go on in spite of all. And so today I still have a dream."
I want to teach my children not to live in hatred. I have done it. It destroys the soul.
Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it. Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it. Hatred darkens life; love illuminates it.
These are just a few of the dreams I have for my children.
Despite my own political ideas and leanings, it doesn't go unnoticed for me that here on this MLK day we sit with a minority President. It makes me happy to think that in these short 50 years that our country has progressed to this point and that, in my opinion, Martin Luther King, Jr's dream has been realized.