A Man with a Dream
Martin Luther King had a vision and dream for his people, but not just his people, but for our nation. That dream was for diverse people to live in harmony respecting and valuing each other regardless of race, nationality or class.
In 1970, I graduated from a university in the north with a degree in education. I applied for a teaching job in a small city on the eastern shore of Maryland. This was the beginning of my education in learning the true value of all people no matter the difference of their color, social class or nationality
You see, all the students in the school were “black” Americans. The staff was mixed. The school was overseen by a young “black” American male.
A Dream Deferred
In 1954 the Supreme Court in the Brown vs. the Board of Education case declared all segregated schools to be inherently unequal. But action to desegregate schools was a battle over the next 20 years. So it was that in 1970, I joined a staff in a school where all the students were young black Americans. This population of students lived in various small segregated communities within that city. Many of the parents worked at a large soup factory located in the same area of their neighborhood, or at a large poultry processing plant.
The Trauma of Prejudice
These children were beautiful, full of life and ambition, yet even at the age of 8 and 9, scars from racial prejudice were apparent. In my first few weeks of school there was a young girl, Benita, who cried many mornings outside my classroom because she was afraid to come into a classroom with a white teacher. Where did she learn this fear? Probably, from the experiences of her parents and family within the community.
Another beautiful little girl, Sami, wore a wig to school every day at age 8 because she was embarrassed by her hair. I am afraid to say that one white voice was not enough to erase the standard of beauty held out to her and around in the community and society at large.
Passing on the Dream
The parents were like any other parents, loving, protective and holding unto dreams for their children, even though the reality around them did not support such dreams. I believe that Martin Luther King’s ideas and dreams impacted these parents to dream on behalf of the dignity and value of their children in a not so promising environment.
Sidney’s mother was one of these women who dreamed for her boy. She developed her son’s intellect and character and implanted a vision for him to graduate college.
I remember Sidney as an upstanding 3rd grade student who often came to school in his Boy Scout uniform. It is my understanding that Sidney is now a pastor in a church in North Carolina perhaps, because his mother held on to her dreams.
How do you build up a whole race of people? By interacting one on one and speaking words of truth of God about who they really are in Jesus – sons and daughters of God, precious and beloved in His sight (John 1:12; 1Peter 2:9).
Jesus – A Man with a Vision
Jesus was a man of vision. He called Peter from being a weak, unsure disciple into being a solid rock in the foundation of the church. (John 1:42; Mt.16:18; Acts 2:14-38)
Jesus took an insecure/fearful man named Thomas, and made him a strong man of faith, to the point that Thomas proclaimed Jesus as Lord, John 20:24-29. Tradition has it that Thomas took the gospel of Jesus to India and was killed there for his faith.
If you read the gospels of Jesus, you will see His love of people and his vision for them. He had vision for lepers, blind men, paralytics, demon possessed, the rich, the poor, adulteresses and priests.
So What about Us?
How do we teach the young Sami’s in this society to see their true beauty? We help by speaking truth into them. The truth that they are created in the image of God (Gen. 1:27- “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them”).
The truth that as God created each different flower to show forth a real beauty of its own, so each human is beautiful and radiates this beauty in a way unique to them.
How do we teach the discouraged and traumatized Benita’s not to fear? We remove fear through love. (“…perfect love drives out fear…” 1 John 4:18). Am I willing to persevere and show love to someone who has been wounded by the world?
Whom do you have vision for? Whose dreams do you encourage? Into whose heart do you speak the truth of their value to God?
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”