This past Monday we celebrated another anniversary honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and how he envisioned America and the world. I lived during the time when MLK and other civil rights leaders were struggling with protest after protest and march after march, watching elected officials and law enforcement officers stand at the entrance of educational institutions, restaurants, department stores, and having to ride at the back of the bus, drink from separate water fountains, not being able to get a room in hotels, and experiencing legalized employment discrimination. We had the right to vote but not without having to pay a poll tax or take a test on the constitution or even guessing how many bubbles were in a bar of soap.
I then thought of our current situation of having high drop-out rates of African American students from the very institutions MLK fought so hard for them to enter. I thought of the fine restaurants we waited on tables at and were employed in but now can’t work in nor eat at because so many are unemployed. I thought of the gains we have made in employment in department stores only to have technologyreducing those employment opportunities. I thought of the open door policies of hotels, but now many of our people don’t have the financial resources to pay the bill. I also thought of the many fine accomplishments our people have made during the struggle and the many firsts over the past fifty years that some take for granted now. My younger brothers and sisters integrated the schools that were segregated for me. They witnessed Black teachers and principals being shoved out of the classrooms and replaced with White teachers and principals.
While this was going on down south, the north and out west in California, educational institutions were looking for Black teachers to educate the growing classrooms of Black and Latino students. This brought me to my current dream of our children reaching their full potential advancing us to the next level. That dream is a 100% graduation rate for all students. My dream of all students graduating with grades to enter any college or university they desire if they wish to gain higher degrees or be able to learn technical skills or start a business.
In this dream I saw parents actually being parents to their children and not friends of their children. And children eager to attend school and give their undivided attention to instruction. I saw teachers actually teaching students by challenging their creative side and encouraging critical thinking. I saw principals acting like campus leaders, making sure that teachers had the resources necessary to carry out the policies established by the Boards of Education. I saw educational employees associations working with Boards of Education with one mission: do what is good for the students. I saw the public asking what they can do to assist in the education of our children. I saw a country saying we need to bring employers back home for our children to work with business opportunities for our young people.
I saw voters electing people into office that want good government for the people they serve. I saw elected officials seeking ideas from the people they serve and incorporating those ideas into laws. Then I woke up and said to myself, is this possible? And a voice from King said, “I had a dream that one day this is possible if the people will devote their time, talents and financial resources to the mission of service.” I hope you had a wonderful MLK anniversary and remember to keep on dreaming about being of service to others to make the next generation better than what we are.
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