“I have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.” But, what of this American dream?  Is it like Langston’s “dream deferred. Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun?” Is it the “Dreams from my father” spoken of by Barrack?  Is it the dream longed for by Abraham Lincoln who once lamented, “My dream is of a place and time where America will once again be seen as the last best hope of earth?” Or, is it a dream at all? Maybe it is the nightmare Malcolm proclaimed it to be when he stated so succinctly, “I see America through the eyes of the victim. I don’t see any American dream—I see an American nightmare.” Malcom’s sentiments were echoed  by Eldrige Cleaver who expressed the paradox in these words, “I feel that I am a citizen of the American dream and that the revolutionary struggle, of which I am a part, Is a struggle against the American nightmare.”

Where does the dream come from? Harriet Tubman told us that, “Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.” So, is that it? Do dreams come from within the dreamer?  Colin Powell said that dreams are the result of “hard work”.  I heard him say, “A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work.”

“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal” are the words that came rising up from the steps of the Lincoln Monument that 28th day of August, 1963. It was then and there that Martin shared his dream with us.  Martin died prior to seeing his dream fulfilled. We are still waiting for the dream to become reality.

Tupac reminds us of the paradox of this dream with these lyrics:

The American dream wasn’t made for me

Cause lady liberty’s a hypocrite, she lied to me.

Promised me freedom, education, and equality

Never gave me nothing but slavery

But look how dangerous you made me

Calling me a mad man cause I’m strong and bold.

Benjamin Mays—Martin’s mentor—once said “It isn’t a calamity to die with dreams unfulfilled, but it is a calamity not to dream.” Martin had the courage to dream.

Oprah Winfrey shared this pearl; “The biggest adventure you can take is to live the life of your dreams.”

Langston urged us to “Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken-winged bird that cannot fly. Hold fast to dreams for when dreams go life is a barren field Frozen with snow.”

Despite the nightmares and despite the fact that the dream has, so far, evaded us, let’s not stop dreaming. “Let us dream of tomorrow where we can truly love from the soul, and know love as the ultimate truth at the heart of all creation” chimed Michael Jackson.

“The best way to make a dream come true” said the first African American woman to travel into space, Mae Jemison, “is to wake up.

So, let’s WAKE UP, WAKE UP, WAKE UP and make the dream come true.



by Ronald W. Brown


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