Dreaming of Dr. King

I once had a conversation at school with a first grade student. It was snack time, and, as she saw me approaching the eating area, the student called out to me:

“Mrs. McDavid, Mrs. McDavid!” Olivia’s hand was up and signaling for me to join her.

I walked over to her table and sat down. “What’s up?”

“Did you know that before, if we were at a school with all black people or a school with all white people, I couldn’t sit with you?”

So began a conversation about Martin Luther King Jr. Earlier, Olivia’s teacher had shared his story with the class. As we spoke, I clarified her misunderstandings and listened to her innocence. We also engaged in skin color comparisons, both ultimately agreeing that Olivia was not really white and I was not really black.

“It’s what’s inside our hearts that counts. That’s what Dr. King was saying,” I explained to her.

She nodded and then told me a story about a recess situation that showed she understood. I left the table feeling like I had been a part of something special and, hopefully, long lasting in the heart of that child.

Dr. King’s I Have a Dream speech has been recited by men and women, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, and blacks and whites. I especially love to hear children recite the speech.

But there’s nothing like hearing or seeing the original. You can find the audio here.

If you search online for the televised speech, you might find it. But beware. The video I found had this message from YouTube above the comments section: “Comments are disabled [for this video] since many of them were hateful and racist.”

This year it will be 60 years since Dr. King spoke his famous words and 160 years since President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. Yet we’re still working on that dream in the twenty-first century.

The more years I live, the more sure I become that the brotherhood of man will never arrive through the efforts of man. There is too much evidence for me to think otherwise.

In his speech, Dr. King quoted passages from the Bible that refer to the Day of the Lord, when Jesus returns to make all things as it is in heaven. I believe that great event will happen. And, at that time, freedom will truly ring. In the meantime, the Bible speaks of the Gospel as the answer to current racial hostility — one transformed person at a time, and the church as a living preview of what’s to come. (See Ephesians 2:11-12, Ephesians 4:1-16, ESV.)

The promises of the Bible give me hope.

Click on the image to read the entire speech.

I have a dream: Dr. King is in heaven and is at peace, free at last. He doesn’t look sad, tired, or angry as he did while giving that famous speech. He has no bodyguards. No one thinks about the color of their skin. They are all looking forward to the Day when that great brotherhood will take place.

I have a dream today.

Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.
Colossians 3:11

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