I Have a Dream 50th Anniversary

I have a dream: four famous words of an incredible speech. This phrase was mentioned a lot in the news last week as the nation celebrated the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech. 

Do we really pay attention to the words from Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech and recognize the importance of it? Do we really pay attention to the words that were said? How many of us really pay attention to the struggle that people went through for civil rights? I did not.

I actually got tired of hearing about it. I had always considered Martin Luther King Jr. and all of those involved in the civil rights movements as heroes for standing up for what is right, but I never gave much serious thought to it beyond that.

Not till recently in my life did I come to fully respect and appreciate the fight for civil rights and how powerful King’s speech is still to this day.

I am a proud southerner and love the state I live in. I get aggravated because it seems whenever the South, especially Mississippi, is the setting of a movie it involves our racism. Most movies about the South seem to be set anywhere from the Civil War to the civil rights movement.

It used to make me mad and want to shout “But that’s not how it is anymore!” There are so many great things about the south that people could talk about besides the history of racism in this area. I remember getting asked a couple times as a kid when meeting friends from other parts of the country at church conventions, “Oh, you’re from Mississippi. Is racism still bad there?”

Growing up I never thought about racism or the struggle for civil rights. I had a lot of friends that were black, and we all got along so I would sometimes think, “Why do we have to talk about the bad history of the South so much? They won that fight, and we all get along now. Right?”

It is important to remember the lessons of history so we are not doomed to repeat them. Growing up we get a little wiser, and we find out that not everyone tries to get along with their neighbors. I have been shocked more than once to hear racial comments in passing from people, white and black.

Today we do live in a nation where, for the most part, racism is no longer a factor. But we cannot forget the struggle that made that possible. When I finally really paid attention to the documentaries about the civil rights and tried to put myself the best I can in the shoes of someone fighting for civil rights it is awe inspiring. These amazing people put it all on the line and some were even beaten and killed for the fight to be treated equally in society.

The “I Have a Dream” speech is still very powerful even 50 years later. To me it is one of the most eloquent and intelligent speeches I have ever heard. I encourage you to find the speech on YouTube or to read the transcript online.

One of the beautiful lessons from Martin Luther King Jr. and his speech is that every seemingly impossible task started out as a dream that was brought into action by good people. There are still good fights to be fought. King’s speech continues to inspire me and others today to dream big and find ways to make this world a better place. 

James Osborne, Contributing Writer


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