Pastor T. Marvene Wright
By Pastor T. Marvene WrightThe Word Center Church
Langston Hughes wrote: "What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun? Or fester like a sore and then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat? Or crust and sugar over like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags like a heavy load. Or does it explode?"
Dr. Martin Luther King had a dream. How did he keep his dream alive?
When I was six years old living in Jacksonville, Florida, my Godmother told me that when I turn fourteen years old I could come to California and live with her.
I had a dream to go to California. Every time I heard or read something about California, I got excited and hopeful. While waiting for my dream to be fulfilled, I experienced a lot of fear and pain.
When we went to the downtown park, I couldn't drink from one of the water fountains because I was not white. When I traveled by Greyhound Bus, I could not eat at the lunch counter in the bus terminal, because I was not white. Was it because I was not white or because I was black?
On Saturdays, when my mother got paid and wanted to treat the six of us to a hot dog at F.W. Woolworth, we couldn't sit where we wanted to sit. There was a small-designated place for us to sit.
In 1965, I saw my school teachers arrested for trying to eat at Morrison's cafeteria. I heard my mother say ‘Ma'am' to the lady at the store and she responded to my mother with ‘gal.' This was all too confusing to me, something a child should never have to experience.
I began to read about Dr. Martin Luther King and the leadership he provided for the ‘Negro race.' Dr. King had a dream and he went to the promised land. I made it to my promised land, California, or so I thought.
I attended Occidental College in a special program for underprivileged youth and went to Yale University in Connecticut through another program for the underprivileged. Later, I was accepted to and attended the University of Southern California, because I had a 3.7 GPA and there were several slots for low-income blacks.
Why? When God created us all in His image and after His likeness, why? When we all have the same red blood?
Many years have passed and many people have sacrificed their lives and reputation for equality. Medger Evers, Marcus Garvey, Linda Brown, Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy, Rosa Parks, to name a few.
Dr. King wrote, "People don't get along because they fear each other. People fear each other because they don't know each other. They don't know each other because they have not properly communicated with each other."
In Dr. King's ‘I have a dream' speech, he said, "One day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: The declaration that all men are created equal and that we have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."
As a part of Dr. King's dream, he envisioned his children being judged by the content of their character rather than the color of their skin. I believe that God is uniting us as an example to the world to see that different races, cultures, and religions can walk together, not superficially, but sincerely, for the cause of freedom for all mankind.
(Pastor Wright delivered this message at a gathering of Temple Israel of Hollywood and The Word Center Church in January 2009. Since then, The Word Center and the Jewish community have continued to build a relationship on the principles of freedom and equality.)