A voice for his time, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered a timeless message of justice and equality, through words and deeds that still reverberate across this nation and the world.
We know his dream. We have read his letters. We have replayed the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom speech over and over, as it is as relevant today as it was in 1963, when he delivered it on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC.
Dr. King had a dream. It is my belief, friend, that now… it is time to cast ours.
With his life’s work and message as a launching pad, it is time for us to cast vision, set agendas, and develop actionable plans; not just for the change we want to see in communities, churches, schools and, subsequently the nation, but to also speak to the hope that is before us in our young adults.
Tomorrow will be theirs to seize and they must be ready for a world that looks different from generations past.
The world has changed since the delivery of Dr. King’s speech in 1963.
Now, 63 years later, generations of Black people are dealing with increased exposure to hate and injustice. In many instances, the struggle is being televised. Mass communication has made it possible to spread the word from the north to the south and from the east to the west in a matter of minutes. Our children have witnessed the death of George Floyd. They heard Eric Garner’s voice when he pleaded for his life with the words, “I can’t breathe.” They listened in to the Ahmaud Arbery trial. They looked into the eyes of the parents of Trayvon Martin. They have seen Big Mama and Pops struggle in a system that plays favorites. They have witnessed their moms and dads try to make ends meet with 9 to 5 jobs, yet still find themselves living below the poverty line. They have experienced their parents having to choose between attending their game or making sure there is money for food and rent.
It is a vicious cycle, that even with the best of intentions and efforts in the home, causes strain. Not only has the world changed, but we in many ways have changed, too.
Today, we must not only repeat Dr. King’s dream, but we must also, friends, cast our own. We must plant seeds of hope in the generation behind us to ensure they continue in faith, in strength, and in love. We must encourage them to heal. They need to hear our words of life, of affirmation, and our vision, in anticipation of what is ahead.
It is for this reason that I ask you to stop for a moment, over the next few weeks, and call the young adults who are in your life. Tell them of the gifts you see in them. Tell them that their life and their presence matters. Do not take for granted that they know. Tell them that you love them and that their presence is a joy to you, even when they mess up.
Where you might have erred, ask for their forgiveness. Tell them that you are sorry for the defining moments you missed; for the times you used words as a weapon; for the times where you have not lived what you taught them; for the situations where you dropped the ball; and for the moments where you did not listen.
Say to them, “The Dreams I Have For You Are…
Wholeness in soul and spirit,
Healing in body and mind,
Courage to make good decisions,
Peace at all times,
Wisdom in and out of conflict,
Increased ability to gain wealth,
New mercies in the morning,
Grace throughout the day,
Friendships that are solid,
Relationships that are not one-sided,
Work that you love,
A teachable spirit and graciousness to receive when chided.”
The generation behind us needs to see not only our strength, but our humanity and humility, so that when moments of failure happen in their life, they know we got their back because grace had us.
I am reminded of Derek Redmond’s story. He was living his dream of racing in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. The road there had been tough after undergoing five operations, including surgery on his Achilles tendon months before the 1992 Olympics. About 150 meters into the semifinal race, Redmond experienced a muscle tear and fell to the ground. It was over, but the champion inside of him knew he had to finish the race. It was with that determination that Redmond got up and hobbled towards that goal. His dad, sitting in the audience, ran onto the track to help his son get closer. Just before the finish line, his dad stopped, released him, and allowed Redmond to complete the race he started on his own.
There are good and bad days coming. The young adults in our community will one day be handed the torch to run with our shared dreams. Like Redmond, they must hobble or walk to that end. By God’s grace, we will be steps away from the finish line to witness it, but friend, it will be their race. It is a race we have been tasked to equip them for, even while now, running our own race.
We know the cost Dr. King paid. We know what it has cost us to run this race, so who better to explain to them that running with the torch of our shared dreams comes with a price called adversity. Bias and inequality are formidable foes, but there are greater works, more “firsts,” and more social justice exploits in making self-evident truths a reality in our community. We must prepare them and that starts with sharing the “dreams we have” for them.
Dr. King shared his dreams. It is time that we shared ours.
Sharwin Wiltz-Boney is an entrepreneur, business consultant/coach, speaker and author who currently serves as President and CEO of a financial infrastructure management company that has operated in the Houston area for more than a decade. Utilizing the experience she has gained through business ventures and her very own life journey, Sharwin invites you into her Musings. Have a comment? Drop her a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.