Over 50 years ago, Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his captivating “I Have a Dream” speech. From the Lincoln Memorial, he shared his vision with the world. Before he had even reached the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, King had spent many years passionately fighting for equality. Although most of us will never have the platform Dr. King had, there are three lessons we can learn from his activism and famous speech.
1. Address the issue.
Martin Luther boldly addressed the issue of racial inequality. He did not avoid or delay action. King knew what he was fighting for. He identified it and gave it a name.
“When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men, as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned.”
Just like Dr. King, we need to identify the problems we want to address and solve. Is it human trafficking, lack of access to clean water, people without a Bible translated into their native language? Take time to reflect and discuss the issues of which you will be champions. The time is now.
2. Cast the vision.
“I have a dream” is the iconic phrase from Martin Luther King’s speech at the Lincoln Memorial. Dr. King painted a picture of how he envisioned America in the future.
“I have a dream. One day my four little children will live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”
For many African Americans in the ’60s and ’70s, these 34 words encapsulated their hopes and dreams of a brighter future. Dr. King cast a vision placed in his heart, but he cast his vision so that others could catch sight of it, and all could work towards making it a reality.
As you cast your vision, imagine, and brainstorm with about how you want to see the world, paint a picture of a world without human trafficking, without extreme poverty, or a world where everyone has access to a Bible in their language.
3. Take action.
Dr. King did not stop with the dream or even with the speech. He took active steps towards a solution. Even before his famous speech, he was active is seeking racial equality. After his speech, he wrote books, met with political and religious leaders, and continued campaigning for justice. In 1964 MLK was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize and gave all of the $54,000 prize towards civil rights activism.
Your efforts do not end with the dream. Continue to lead through generosity by taking practical steps towards writing the last check towards a specific problem. It may mean finding others to join you along the way, creating prayer groups, or finding an organization that is already working towards the issue you are passionate you have chosen to pursue.