Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech, inspires us even 60 years later. It certainly continues to inspire me and many others.
He said: “It is a dream…deeply rooted in the American dream… that all men are created equal.” How is this manifested? Well, we have equality when we are free from discrimination, when we worship as we choose, when we vote freely, when we have the protections of due process and the right to privacy. Can we say that all of these rights are protected in our country? And for whom? Much has been done since 1963, so that we act as if we believe that all men and women are equal, but the work continues.
When I arrived in the United States in the late 1960’s to study at University of Findlay in Ohio through a scholarship, it was obvious to me looking at the color and faces of my peers, that that there was little minority representation in the student body and less in the faculty, administration and staff. How could it be that in this land of opportunity there were not many that looked like me? I asked myself. However, Hispanics were very well represented picking tomatoes in the fields.
While I came from a poor country, all of us were different shades of brown including doctors and their patients, teachers and students, politicians and those they represented. Why not here, I asked myself. Where are the brown doctors, businessmen, teachers and students?
My goal originally was to become a business woman like my grandmother. I was going to make, sell or promote a product. Somewhere in my first year of college I added Sociology as a minor to my Economics major. I wanted to understand why there were so few African American students enrolled. Other than me, there were 2 Mexican students enrolled. My mother, who was with me briefly, and I became friends with them and their family.
Well, I thought, how can the people picking the crops advocate for themselves without appropriate schooling about their rights and responsibilities. Are they getting access and encouragement to complete high school and pursuit a college education? If we go to school, we would know how to claim our rights. In the fight, we also need to enlist whites woven into the power structures who can be our allies and advocates.
I was inspired then to prepare myself to work in four year colleges, universities and community colleges. The latter have been my home because we open our arms and say: “You all come.” We will receive you and guide you so that with appropriate efforts, you can develop the mind and the fortitude to win this life long fight towards freedom and justice.
I thank so many of my white and minority friends and associates, who have been so inspired to work towards this dream, because as said by Dr. King, “we refuse to believe that the Bank of Justice is bankrupt”.
No, Dr. King said, “we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.” I thank so many of you for being my brothers and sisters in this fight.