I was seven years old when Martin Luther King Jr wrote his 1967 speech “I Have A Dream.” As I listened to his speech, the sound of his baritone voice commanded my attention. His words gave me hope about my future as a little black girl living in a segregated society. Our community in Chapel Hill pulled together and worked towards our freedom. When demonstrating for our freedom, we marched alongside UNC students. They would march past our neighborhood, heading towards Franklin Street, and call us into the protest march. We sang, “What are you marching for? Freedom!  What are you marching for? Freedom!  What are you marching for?  FREEDOM FREEDOM FREEDOM”!  His dream began for me when we joined that march with the white students and other members of our community.  Community togetherness continues today.

One day, I was driving to work and ran upon students and folks from the Chapel Hill Community marching on Franklin Street towards UNC campus in protest of the injustice of black males growing from the outcry of the Black Lives Matters movement.  Peaceful Protest. Dr. King said, “But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.” It brought tears to my eye because it took me back to segregated times when I marched for injustice during my youth. Dr. King said, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly." 

He spoke of injustice and talked about giving those in need a helping hand.

We have to reach back into the community to hold up those in need. I see it happen with the organizations and individuals that help with food insecurities, lack of clothing, affordable housing, business support, education.  King said, "I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality, and freedom for their spirits.”

We reap the benefits of his presence, working towards our dreams and aspirations, giving us hope within the atmosphere of this divided country and the strength to march on and continue to hope for a better America where everyone is treated with equity. 

Dr. King said, "Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that."

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s legacy reminds me to show humility, respect, and seek peace even in this world of uncertainty. Love, hope, peace, and faith are what we need to prepare us to continue his work.

It is the voice that little girl heard and gained hope. 

~ Spring Council