How King’s Speech Influenced Me

Today is the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Everyone knows how important that message delivered by Dr. King was to blacks and other minorities, but it changed the white mindset too.

It was one of the pivotal moments in my life.

One wouldn’t think the speech would have been noticed by a white southern school girl, but as I sat alone in front of the black and white TV in the living room, Dr. King’s speech resonated with me. My father came in and told me to change the channel. My father wasn’t a particularly prejudiced man. He just didn’t know anything else to think. I told him it was on the other channel too so he left, but I believe all white people who took the time to listen were enlightened. I was, and in a way that went beyond race.

Even at my age, I’d recognized that people and groups of people held chauvinistic beliefs they never thought to question. They considered their place to be superior to others because God favored them above others. The rich were better than the poor, the beautiful were better than the not so beautiful, the strong were better than the weak. Their religion was better than anyone else’s. That’s just the way the world was.

But the Spirit of Christ had come into my life a few years earlier, and I knew God didn’t respect one person over another, and I knew how easily people are deceived by accepting the way it’s always been.

All real Christians share Dr. King’s dream, and we strive to bring it to reality in our lives and make the world a better place by working toward that dream. But I know the dream won’t be fully realized until God’s kingdom comes on earth as it is in Heaven. Equality depends on the heart, and the hearts of people are as evil as ever.

Even those working for equality have gone off the mark, some fighting battles that have already been won, and others expecting preferential instead of equal treatment. Deep within the heart is that concept of ‘I’m better than you’, and that won’t change until Jesus changes the heart.

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