01/21/13 — Dream stronger: Martin Luther King Jr.'s vision one that should be shared

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Dream stronger: Martin Luther King Jr.'s vision one that should be shared

It took courage to stand there in the middle of the National Mall and to remind a nation and its people of what it could be, should be and would be.

It was dangerous to speak out in the 1960s about equality and the horrors of discrimination and strife over the concept.

It took a special person to reach beyond politics, hatred and division to see possibilities, common ground and a united, better country.

And that is why, decades after Martin Luther King Jr. stood on that mall and told thousands about his dream of a better America that his message still resonates, still makes people think about what could be rather than what is.

But there is a need for a speech today, too.

It requires just as much courage.

It necessitates looking at some hard truths.

And it is just as critical for this nation's future.

Dr. King preached unity.

It was not a black/white thing and he saw all people as part of the movement to improve race relations in this country. It was about love and common ground, not differences.

It was not just about fighting hatred with laws to protect a certain race or ethnic group. It was about people of like mind finding their similarities and fighting to make their country a place where all dreams could be shared and celebrated equally.

But he called for something else, too, responsibility and courage.

He wanted us all to aspire to be better people, to want more and to do the work necessary to make those dreams more than just words.

Are we there yet? Would he be proud?

It is something to think about on this Martin Luther King Day.

That dream cannot be achieved simply by putting a man or woman of color in the Oval Office or on the Supreme Court. The fight is not over because schools are integrated now.

It is about a mindset, a dream of possibilities and wanting more for the young people who are charged with carrying the dream forward.

And it is a topic for everyone to consider -- no matter their race, color or ethnic makeup.

Because what Dr. King meant that day was that we are ALL Americans and should join hands to make this nation worthy of the greatness that has been thrust upon it.

So what does this mean as we go forward?

It means we have to look at the bad stuff -- the children with no parents or disengaged parents, teenage pregnancy, drugs, the crime rate, the projects, poverty, putting education first and demanding that every child have access to the tools to succeed.

We have to talk about responsibility, accountability and what really needs to be done and said to make a dream possible for as many young Americans as possible.

We have to condemn those who seek to profit from the fight without actually standing for anything and to listen to the disparate voices that challenge all of us to be better people and to look harder at what we can do and should do.

There should be a new dream -- one that celebrates those who break down barriers every day and who strive to bring their inspirational stories to the places where they are needed the most.

We don't need any more big speeches. We have the best one we could get -- and it is still relevant, even today.

What we need is the courage to look harder, to expect more and to get our priorities in order and our realities in check.

That's how we move forward, together.

And that is how we honor a man who had the courage to ask his country and his fellow man to do that 50 years ago.

Published in Editorials on January 21, 2013 10:45 AM