January 19th, 2009
01:47 PM ET

Dreams do come true

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/01/19/king.poll/art.king.wpoll.gi.jpg caption="Martin Luther King Jr. waves to supporters from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on August 28, 1963."]

Benjamin Ola. Akande
Dean, Webster University School of Business & Technology

As a child growing up in Nigeria, I was a dreamer. My parents never dismissed my dreams. They were always encouraging. No matter how outright unbelievable my dreams were, they would assure me that dreams do come true. Dreams provide a glimpse of what the future will look like. I wish I could have recorded all those dreams.

Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream was recorded. It was a dream that was played out in front of thousands of people and like most dreams, no one really knew how it would play out. As the dream was recalled over the years, it became clear that this was a significant and compelling vision of the future. Martin’s dream was in the form of a remarkable prose on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Most of us can hear him recite this dream in our subconscious. “I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made straight and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.” It is a dream that visualizes a future where all those things that seemed impossible and improbable will happen despite overwhelming obstacles.

The election of Barack Obama was a manifestation of Martin’s dream. I would like to believe that Martin Luther King’s dream highlighted how difficult it is to make change happen. Martin spoke about how mountains and hills (obstacles) shall be made lower and rough places (institutional changes) will be made straight. The recognition was that monumental changes of this magnitude take considerable time. Indeed, it takes the force of nature to break through the harsh reality of status quo and history.

Dreaming enables us to transcend the present and position us on the balcony for a better view of the future. And, because dreaming offers no restrictions, the greatest dreamers are often characterized as crazy and out of touch with reality. What history has shown us is that you may vilify them, you can criticize them, and you may even assassinate them. But, you can’t kill a dreamer’s dream. MLK’s dream took a long time to come to fruition, with small significant steps and some big setbacks along the way. But on Nov. 4, 2008, the full realization of the great civil rights leader’s dream came to pass with the election of a junior senator from Illinois as the first African-American President of The United States.

Martin Luther King taught us that adversity is a lot easier to overcome than success. And that is the power of dreams. He knew it would happen. He even foresaw that his own demise may keep him from seeing his dream come true. “I’ve seen the promised land,” he said. “I may not get there with you, but I want you to know tonight that we as a people will get to the Promised Land.” Forty-five years later, his vision is still unfolding. But one thing is crystal clear. Dreams do come true.

soundoff (4 Responses)
  1. Nab weekly.ca

    It is so important parents never dismiss their children's dreams but encourage them to find a way to live them. So many people that had dreams as children were dismissed and told what to become, if those children rebelled were then told they wouldn't make it in anything they do. To many broken hearts, to much feeling unworthy if you're parents don't help you follow your dreams they you go through life depressed feeling everything is out of reach. Because of men like Dr. Martin Luther King and so many others who continue to tell people never loose faith, not in God, not in yourself, anything is possible if you just believe and not let the negetive people around you tell you either your crazy or unworthy to reach your goals.

    I explain to all my children, be what you want to be not what you're told to be. Be what you want, not for money but because every day you wake up the first thing you want to do is your passion. The amount of money at the end of the day doesn't matter, you can be a financially wealthy person at any income if you learn how to make your money work for you, you become a rich person when you find a way to make your passion's come true and pass your knowledge and your time to make another's dream come true.

    God Bless and Stay Safe

    January 19, 2009 at 3:35 pm |
  2. Shayla, NYC

    I disagree. MLK's dream is far from coming true. He dreamed of ALL of us to be judged by the content of our character and not the color of our skin. Obama was totally judged by the color of his skin. That was the main focus. Fortunately his character and politics was strong enough to withstand it. Everyday Black Americans still receive judgement in one way or another.
    MLK also talked about poverty. The U.S. still has a poverty issue (not solely due to recession). He talked to an even playing field. Any man/woman of color has to work 3 times as hard to get half as far as any average white person.

    I really hope black people are not blinded by this. We should be proud but not satisfied.

    January 19, 2009 at 2:22 pm |
  3. Dennis Walter Smith


    From the bile’s of history and the embryo of social allegiance – we’ve finally matured to a defining moment of a cohesive social partnership in this country. This is a moment that we’ve longed for, for centuries. A moment that clearly exercises the spiritual muscles that sustains us and the mutual inner desire to identify what is good and follow lead. Together we have set aside the segregating serums that have plagued us and have hindered the growth of the fibers of love that we all share in our blueprints of life.

    What a magical and inspiring time to see millions across this country share in the same passion for change, revival, and the unsung anthem of life – “The Family”. Mr. Obama stands in the midst of hierarchy, but on a gentle platform of vision. It is the humbleness of this man that captures the essence of a real tangible creed that so many before him chased. Mr. Obama is the modern day template build from the architectural designed of a universal love and dawned from the appreciation of human care and compassion. He’s a man whom stands on the platform of genuine love and is not inhibited by the shackles and clouds of politics, but is freed through the brilliance that shines from the amazing light of love we call democracy.

    On this day – I am proud to be an American. On this day, I am so proud to be a father and a great husband. On this day, I am proud to have had the privilege to be a part of the greatest change and movement this country will ever endure. On this day, the United States of America has claimed victory; not over the stronghold of the oppressors and not over the disarming of our enemies, but a victory over the captive mental ropes that have choked our society from breathing new air and new opportunity. Now we breathe the fundamental chemical and spiritual element needed..... Barak – The Pentacle of Humanity.

    January 19, 2009 at 2:11 pm |
  4. Cindy

    Dr. King's dream may be coming to fruition when Obama takes office but that doesn't mean that it is over and done. He fought for all people not just blacks. And as long as there are people who still are poor, homeless, being enslaved, beaten and tortured no matter what color they are then his dream still needs to be moved on with.

    Obama is just a stepping stone in Dr. King's dream....a good one...but none the less not the end of all means. There are still many in this country alone who are living in poverty when we as a nation have the where with all to get them out of it but don't. We allow them to languish that way while the nation moves on without them.

    There are others all over the world that are still enslaved and tortured for nothing. Until these problems and many others along these lines can be solved then King"s dream is far from realized!


    January 19, 2009 at 2:08 pm |