January 20, 2014 is a national holiday. This day holds special significance for Americans because it represents the respect of the United States for the life, contributions, and sacrifices of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. during his time as leader of the civil rights movement that shaped the world in which we live and helped to reframe the conscience of America.
Over the years, remembering Martin Luther King, Jr. Day has been important to me because of the dream that he spoke about in one of his most memorable speeches delivered on August 28, 1963 on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. I often have read portions of that speech in my classrooms, public programs, and even as part of a special program held prior to our regular Lions club meeting.
I am inspired each time I read the speech and would like to share a portion of King’s message here. I quote from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.:
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.”
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where
they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of
I have a dream today!
I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and
mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and
the crooked places will be made straight; “and the glory of the Lord
shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.”
And this will be the day — this will be the day when all of God’s children will
be able to sing with new meaning:
My country ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing.
Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrim’s pride,
From every mountainside, let freedom ring!
And when this happens, and when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring
from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city,
we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black
men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will
be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:
Free at last! Free at last!
Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!
At NDSU, as a professor and director of the Institute for the Study of Cultural Diversity I have the opportunity every day to work with my colleagues to promote awareness of and support for curriculum and programs promoting respect for different cultural groups. Respecting people from different cultural groups and those who have different points of view requires constant effort. Some have suggested that my ability to work with and show respect for people from different countries and cultural groups will enable me to immediately make an impact as an International Director in Lions Clubs International. I am honored that people see that quality in me. Thus inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I will carry forward the dream that we should all work together to make the world a better place and strive to make a difference when elected to the Lions Clubs International Board of Directors.
Best wishes to all Lions and those who respect the contributions of people who serve the needs of the less fortunate in their communities!
–Lion Robert Littlefield