April 4, 1968. Fifty years ago, a dreamer died. His “I have a dream” speech remains one of the most memorable to Americans. His life and its witness are unforgettable. Engaging faith and civil disobedience, he turned the world’s understanding of church upside down. Putting his body on the line, he became a martyr for a cause of freedom from the social construct of race, from socioeconomic and political exploitation and oppression, from the militarism of daily life and living.
His words challenged racism as usual, the normalization of hatred and communal terrorism. A Baptist minister, the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. is a part of the prophetic tradition of the Church, joining the likes of Ezekiel, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Malachi and so many others. A dream challenged in his day is a reality we hope to see in ours. We need more like him— not consultants or experts but dreamers.
Today, we sit down together across cultures and time, sharing sacred space in the spirit of unity. Rev. King’s dream is being fulfilled in us right now. His vision is in our sights.
And if you are not satisfied with the results thus far, if you feel that we have done enough, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. writes in Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?
“A final victory is an accumulation of many short-term encounters. To lightly dismiss a success because it does not usher in a complete order of justice is to fail to comprehend the process of full victory. It underestimates the value of confrontation and dissolves the confidence born of partial victory by which new efforts are powered.”
His dream does not simply continue as a hope in our hearts or even a vision for the future. Instead, King’s dream provokes us to not close our eyes but to open our hearts to what is possible and what can be if only we choose to see. And somebody’s got to do it. Somebody’s got to dream.