I vividly remember being in either Mrs. Messmer’s third grade class or Mrs. Cacavalli’s fourth grade class and having to choose a figure from our past to be and present as a class project. Of course I chose to be Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. without hesitation. At the time I was one of maybe three or four black children in a predominately white class. I can’t even remember what the my counterparts chose mostly because I was so nervous to get up in front of my class and speak. I wrote his famous “I Have A Dream” speech on 4×6 sized index cards and conceptualized my attire preparing for my big day. I chose to wear my mothers black gown she received for graduation from Virginia Commonwealth University and made myself a mustache out of black construction paper.Image-1

When the time came for me to present I believe I was one of the last to go and I was nervous as ever. I remember parents being present for the presentations and I feel like my mother slid in on a break from work because I can see her standing in the back in her work uniform. I stood before my class and powerfully belted out the speech not having to look at my note cards a single time. To this day I couldn’t tell you how I did it nor could I even give you the first few lines.

Looking back on that day I see it from a completely different perceptive than I did when I was in the moment. I think that’s something that’s common among us all. The ability or opportunity to see something from a differing perspective when you’re not in the thick of it. Being that little black girl, a minority in not only my classroom but the world as well I didn’t understand the magnitude of the Civil Rights movement. But I did however understand the magnitude of being different. The people where I lived and hung out didn’t get to have many experiences with white people and the experiences that they had were not pleasant. Even in my school when it was lunch time or time to maneuver the halls as a class we would pass by the classrooms that were majority black or be tables away from classes that had no white or very few white students while in the cafeteria. I remember feeling alienated and told I thought I was white because I was in an advanced learning class where only two maybe four black students met the requirements. I remember walking into the cafeterias and speaking to the black kids I knew from around the neighborhood and my classmates looking in awe like, “you know THAT person?” You see I was ok, because although I wasn’t like them I was “afforded” the opportunity to be in their world. I had to be different and not like the rest is what I’m sure they were thinking. I most likely was the first black friend a lot of my white friends had. Most likely the first black person that actually slept in their homes.

Although these events were 30 or so years after the efforts of Dr. King were prematurely cut short, there was still more work to be done. Now here we are some fifty or so years later and the fight lives on. It’s important to be reverent and observe the day but it’s more important to carry the legacy day in and day out. We can carry this legacy by first acknowledging the greatness within ourselves along with carrying a love for others in our hearts that is equivalent to the love we have for ourselves. From there we can be more apt to respect not only the life of another but their dreams, goals, and aspirations as well. Even if we may not understand the path of our fellow man we can respect that they do in fact have purpose and a potential path that seemingly has no bearing on our lives. We shouldn’t be so focused on our differences that we fail to see that¬†even if by one common thread, our similarities hold more weight than that in which we attempt to use to justify feelings of disconnect. When we can shift our way of thinking and living individually the collective has no choice but to in turn follow suit. It may take time but the time will pass regardless. We must live our best lives and encourage others to do the same. This includes supporting others on their endeavors and be the same helping hand you would want someone to be in your time of need on your journey to success.

Image-1There’s so many perceptions and individual truths as to what success means. What it means to dream and have a dream. People even go so far as to compare the validity of one person’s dream to that of another. None of us have the same dream though we all may have goals that coincide ultimately conspiring to bring forth the culmination of one overall vision.

To everyone that is courageous enough to materialize their dreams. To all that chase their dreams while supporting those of others. Especially to those who support the visionaries be it from our past or present. To those nurturing the visionaries of the future. Thank you! You never know how the support you give today may change someone else’s tomorrow forever! Those who are great started from a decision that they were tired of what is and chose to actively participate in bringing about some kind of change in their lives and ultimately the lives around them. All it takes is ONE person; to make ONE decision, COMMIT to that decision, and SPEAK their truth. When that truth comes from a genuine place it will resonate and that is how lives are changed. One person, one voice, one message at a time. Change doesn’t happen over night and the journey has no ending point. We must not waiver and we will not be defeated. MANY voices. ONE message. LOVE.

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