About once a year I stumble across a reason to go to Washington, D.C. A few years ago I spoke at the national Children’s Defense Fund conference; last year I was “on assignment” profiling a youth program ran by a friend in town. This year I’m attending an national “invitation-only” summit called “Blazing the Trail: A New Direction for Youth Development & Leadership“. I am most looking forward to hearing Karen Pittman talk about the state of youth leadership and youth development today, primarily because she wrote about this work ten years ago – I want to hear her still sound fresh about it.
Every time I visit this city, I like to sit on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and ponder, imagine and daydream about what has happened there, and what could yet come forward. I think about Marian Anderson and Abe and the Million Man March and Forrest Gump (yes, Forrest Gump). But mostly I wonder about Dr. King. Here’s a quote of his that stays in my head:
“Now, I say to you today my friends, even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. 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 mean are created equal.'”
That is it – the stuff of greatness right there. It was not enough to call the individual out, like Bull Conor, and simply say, “You can change!” It wasn’t enough to challenge a congregation and say, “You can transform!” Not a city or a state, either – but the nation – Dr. King took on the nation. Whenever I dwell on King, I am immediately taken to a stronger thought and a deeper place within myself, and I feel like I understand a little more than I did before. I guess I should dwell on King a little more for that reason.
One of the stated outcomes of the “Blazing the Trail” summit is “Increased youth-guided policy making at the Federal, state and local levels”. That reminds me of another King-ism:
“A right delayed is a right denied.”
That’s it – that is it. That is why I dwell on Dr. King. His words offer guidance and direction in today’s troubled times and for today’s modern youth movement. Thanks, Dr. King – I only hope we can possibly live up to the dream.