Tomorrow, the company I work for is holding a special event to celebrate the life and legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I was asked to write and present a poem and I wanted to share it with all of you today–the day the holiday is celebrated.
The Dream Lives On
94 years ago, a babe’s cry lit up the Atlanta sky
“I have a dream,” it said.
But the world wasn’t ready to hear.
Like the Lord he adored
This King would have to grow and perish
Before we would take heed.
But between his first breath and his last
He would build a lasting legacy.
Though he never asked for fame,
This King was crowned in Montgomery.
Did you hear is voice among the 40,000?
Demanding justice, demonstrating peace.
Marching to Washington,
Did you hear his voice raised in song?
Calling for a peaceful revolution,
For freedom and equality.
Perhaps from steps of the Lincoln Memorial his words reached you.
In a ringing timbre amid the tolling bells.
“I have a dream,” he proclaimed.
The world held its breath and finally listened.
When the echoes faded, sound erupted.
From one side, tears of joy and cries of “Hallelujah.”
On the other, words of hate that do not bear repeating.
For we hear them to this very day.
They clashed with fists and water hoses and human barricades
Trying to keep out, trying to protect
Outdated ways and modes of thinking
Seeing only black and white
Ignoring the humanity underneath.
Amid the screams and cries of pain—still he called for unity.
Equality was not a child of violence
But the progeny of peaceful civil disobedience
Birthed in love, for the greater good of all.
His words were not honey to all ears.
Rather than balm to soothe, they rankled.
Who was this man to make such demands?
Finally, a single gunshot
Said what all their other bigoted words could not:
65 years ago, darkness fell in Tennessee.
Like his lifeblood bleeding out,
It crept across our country and the world.
Silence, shock, and tears greeted it.
Just like they hoped it would.
But then—a miracle.
Instead of despair, righteous anger.
Instead of apathy, action.
Rather than ending a movement, they fueled it.
When the light went out behind his eyes
It lit up inside 7 billion souls.
Like the prophets of old,
What was once his is now ours.
His body may have died
But he lives on.
Yes, even you.
And in me.
So today, let us open not only our ears
To listen, but our hearts as well.
For they compel us to action.
To create the world of which this great man dreamed.
Today, let us all be Martin Luther King Jr. in our communities
As we echo his words:
“Let freedom ring from the streets of Ferguson.
Let freedom ring from the rebuilt ruins of Tulsa.
Let freedom ring from the cobblestones of Charlotte.
Let us join hands—Black, white, brown, and all colors in between.
Let us raise our voices until we drown out those spewing hate
And like Dr. King, we can cry:
‘Free at last! Free at last!
Of racism and bigotry and fear and hate,
Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!’”
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