Where Have All The Dreamers Gone? By Mr. Eddie Riley, CLCS Administrator
In the mid 1930s, a 9 year old boy made an almost prophetic statement to his mother as she was cooking dinner one night. He had been given a dictionary by one of his family friends for Christmas. As he stood there in the doorway of the kitchen, dictionary under his arm, he said to his mother, “One day I’m gonna get me some big words, and me and my big words are going to make a difference.” He would eventually say four words that would have a lasting impact on American culture.
In the1960s, America was not a very pleasant place to be. Riddled with government scandals, corruption, riots on college campuses, constant Vietnam War protests, Americans dodging the draft, and the women’s liberation movement, citizens were perpetually distracted. Segregation of white and black Americans was the way of life all across America. Some Americans were forbidden to drink from certain water fountains, sit in restricted areas of restaurants, use public restrooms, and forced to sit in specific seats on the backs of buses and public transportation. Black students were not allowed to attend the same schools as white students. In professional baseball, it did not matter how many homeruns a black athlete hit, he could not stay in the same hotel as his white teammates.
In 1963, that 9-year-old boy, mentioned in the opening paragraph, was a 39-year-old Pastor. After speaking at the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama on Sunday, August 25, 1963, he was invited to speak at a civil rights rally in Washington, DC on Wednesday, August 28, 1963. The rally was held on the mall in front of the Lincoln Memorial. The background for the rally showed the carved plaque of the Emancipation Proclamation that declared freedom for all slaves during the Civil War and laid the groundwork for the 13th-15th amendments to the Constitution.
In preparation for the speech, he wrote five pages of material, but once he arrived at the rally was told he would only be given five minutes to speak. As he began to speak that muggy Wednesday afternoon, the crowd was restless and his words seemed empty. From somewhere behind the speaker, Mahalia Jackson was heard saying, “Tell ‘em about the dream, Martin, tell ‘em about the dream.” Dr. Martin Luther King, paused put his notes aside, thought for a moment, and spoke briefly focusing on four words: “I have a Dream.”
Early in his speech, Dr. King urged his audience to seize the moment, repeating the phrase “Now is the time,” three times. The most widely-cited example of repetition was the often quoted phrase, “I have a dream,” which was repeated eight times as Dr. King painted a picture of an integrated and unified America for his audience. Among the most quoted lines of the speech was, “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 have a dream today!”
That little 9 year old boy got some big words. Those words have lived on and have become the mantra for social equality and acceptance. America is still working on that dream. It is still alive. We should all celebrate the influence of men like Dr. Martin Luther King. What Dr. King said that warm August day is the very basis of why we sacrifice and invest in a Christian education. Christian education is not an expense we pay, but an investment we make. If we believe education is expensive, compare it to the ramifications of ignorance.
We all have a dream for our children and the world in which they will live. The late Neil Postman, author and educator, is best remembered for his statement, “Children are living messages. We send our children to a time we will not see.” What will their future be like? Will they be prepared? Will they be equipped to face the growing forces of evil and ungodliness? What kind of legacy are we leaving for them?
Where have all the dreamers gone? Hebrews 11:1 describes faith as the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen yet! [added by me]. My late father-in-law, Vernon Hammond, who was also my Administrator for 10 years, used to say, “Catch a vision of the possible, and you’ll get a glimpse of the glory.”