Glimpses of the dream

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 their character. I have a dream today….little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers. I have a dream today.  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 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.”  –  MLK, March 1963, Washington D.C.

Today, we celebrate the life of one my heroes, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.    I’ve always loved the “I have a dream” speech and not just because of it’s eloquent words or powerful call for a different kind of future.  I feel blessed to have grown up in a time and in a neighborhood where a least a few glimpses of that dream became a reality.  In fact, it’s highly doubtful that some that some of my favorite memories growing up would have ever taken place, if MLK and others hadn’t dare to dream that things could be different.

The summer before I started third grade, we moved from a small town to Oklahoma City.   The rest of my childhood through my high school years, were spent in what in my estimation was one of the most integrated and mixed neighborhoods in OKC during the 1980’s and early 90’s.   For me personally, the south side addition called Oakcliff was a great place to grow up.   The other neighborhood kids were black, white, Korean, Vietnamese and Thai, yet more than those labels, they were friends –good friends.   We rode bikes together, played ball together and spent time in each other homes.   I can still get nostalgic driving through my old neighborhood… look there’s Tramel & Lavita’s house on the corner, there’s James house on Bodine, and that’s where Min Soo lived, on the top of the hill is Chipper’s house, not far away you can see the Burrell brothers home,  over there is Dung Ho’s place, Craig was over on 54th,   that’s Joe’s place there, and Marcus’s home and Bryon lived in the two story house on Gaines (and he even had that cool new Nintendo game system),  and……

No it wasn’t perfect, and I know there were then and definitely still are now plenty of prejudices and inequality issues to be addressed.   Yet, it was a great place for this white boy to have grown up.  And sadly it wouldn’t have been possible twenty or thirty years earlier, if someone hadn’t dared to dream.

And it wasn’t just my neighborhood that was positively effected by The Dream.  With the exception of  5th grade, I always enjoyed my school years and for me busing was actually a positive thing.   My heroes include Mrs. Joyce Henderson who was principal at Northeast High school.   I was always impressed by the spirit and joy which she led and tried to unite our diverse high school.  Over the years, her status as a hero has only grown in my eyes.   I never knew but was hardly surprised when I learned via a newspaper article a few years ago, that when Mrs. Henderson was a student herself that she had participated in the sit-ins organized by Clara Luper which eventually led to the desegregation of OKC, nor that she marched and heard Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. give his famous speech in Washtington D.C.

As I’ve recently started blogging and writing again,  I’m reminded of my eighth grade English teacher and Webster Middle School newspaper and yearbook supervisor, Mrs. McCollough or Mrs. Mac as we called her, who always encouraged me to write.   This precious African American woman was not only a high quality teacher but one of the first people outside of my family to encourage me to use my natural creativity with the written word.    And to think, there was a time, just a generation or so before mine when she wouldn’t have been allowed to have been my teacher.

I don’t want to pretend that my childhood was all utopia or that there were no longer any divisions. As much progress as had been made, we still hadn’t arrived at the dream.   I always used to pride myself in the way NEHS was so integrated and how well we all seemed to get along.  Yet, the week before my high school graduation as we got ready for rehearsal, almost all the white and lighter skinned kids were sitting on one side of the auditorium and nearly all the African American kids sat on the other side.   Sadly, as far as we had come, we had still found ways to self segregate when given the choice.  I’ll never forget meeting my friend Bridgette Hurte between the two groups.  “I’m going to add a little color of over there”,  she said.  “I’m headed to lighten up the other side myself”,  I proclaimed and smiled as we crossed paths and both broke with the status quo that day.   The next night my salutatorian speech mentioned  the need to do something about the tragedy of the Apartheid in South Africa (and it must have been a really effective speech because  Apartheid begin to be dismantled not long afterwards 🙂 ).  However, in light of the reality of the previous days dress rehearsal, I always regretted the fact that I didn’t change the speech to mention how we also still had a lot of work to do locally ourselves even after a wonderful four years together.

Other than my family, much of my heart for missions and God’s glorious and colorful harvest field grew out of those years growing up in Oakcliff and in OKC Public Schools.   I’m thankful for that heritage.  And having spent approximately ten years in the Middle East  where walls , misunderstanding  and hatred can so easily divide people, I’m convinced more than ever that MLK’s dream came straight from the heart of God.

I’m thankful that men like MLK dared to dream that the world could be different. The power of The Dream was that it didn’t just originate with MLK and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.  It was a dream that originated from the very heart of God – the Creator  who does not show favoritism and  is no respecter of persons.    Yet,  God was looking for someone who would dare to dream His dream and was willing to pay the price to see it become a reality.   Although, the dream that MLK shared may yet to be fully realized, much is different in America today because he dared to dream and was willingly to pay the ultimate price to see that dream become a reality.  Both my incredible childhood as well as my worldview today is greatly indebted to MLK and those Civil Rights leaders who dreamed and then acted on that dream that God gave them.   I can only pray that I can be as faithful to the dreams God has put in my heart as MLK was to his.

Are you dreaming at all?  And if you are dreaming, are your dreams too small?  If they can only be accomplished through your own abilities or in your own life time, then I dare say your dreams are much too small.   Men of God throughout the ages, dared to dream in something bigger themselves, much like MLK.   What dreams of God have been placed in you heart?  Has fear paralyzed you from acting on them?  Are you willing to pay the price now to truly believe the dreams God has given you that they may some day become a reality?

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9 Comments on “Glimpses of the dream”

  1. Binhnam Tran Says:

    Philip,

    Thank you for this article. I am reminded of
    life at Northeast and of much I liked Bridget. Kim Lounds and I were on the phone yesterday walking down memory lane and she told me once that her mother went to hear one of your sermons. Kim ran the marathon in memory of Alfred, her oldest brother who was shot and killed by undercover police officers who he thought was going after him because of his color. I miss Alred…he used to pick me up for church in a beat up station wagon. I was the only Vietnamese girl at that church. The old hyms still ring so vividly in the crevices of my mind. We were pulled over a couple of times on route to church. And the police were not so kind to Alfred, probably because of how dark he was. And the car was an eyesore. Life has been changed by MLK’s dream, And I am grateful for MLK and his vision. But as I get older, I am more convinced that we can only dream the dream with Christ and Christ alone. Heros no matter how big the stature are fallible and will somehow dissapoint. Sooner or later, a mistress or old skeleton shows up to scar the perfect image. No matter how great a man is, no matter how great the vision, it seems so pale in light of God’s perfection. Sometimes when I lose sight of the cross and turn my focus on this world, hope turns into sadness and despair. It is during those moments of darkness when I can understand how much our world needs a Savior. A Savior that doesn’t see our color or judge our mistakes. He only looks to the condition of our heart and forgives us anytime we ask. Christ is the answer always and forever to cross the boundaries of inequality. How glorious that the Savior of the world dwelled in the most humble of places and died in the most horrific way… for a people that spat at Him! How perfect of a hero deserving of hero worship.

    Reply

    • hummushumorhope Says:

      Great to hear from you Binhnam! Hope all is well! I have so many wonderful memories from NEHS. I too think very highly of the Lounds. What a wonderful family! I think I remember that beat up station wagon! Alfred’s death at such a young age was tragic on its own and even more so under the needless circumstances.

      You are totally right about heroes! I’ll never forget the words of a professor who reminded us that there is only one “hero” in the Bible! “The hero is always God!” he said. The same is true in life. As you said, all pale in the light of God. Like most human heroes, MLK wasn’t without his flaws. I don’t celebrate those things. Just like I don’t celebrate King David’s treatment of Uriah or Bathsheba. However, I still love the words that David wrote in the Psalms and admire those times when he was a man after God’s own heart. And I continue to have great admiration for MLK’s non-violent approach to working for justice. And the voice he raised, when so many people who knew better were silent. I continue to celebrate where His vision caught that of Christ’s – seeing everyone created in their creators image and working toward reconciliation. Yet, my ultimate hero will always be Christ because as you stated only too well, all others eventually disappoint in some way or another and Jesus is the one who brings true HOPE & LIFE!

      Reply

  2. writerstogether Says:

    Sorry to be delayed in responding. . . .but these blog thoughts stay with me and encourage me so much.

    Dreaming has never been easy for me, but the more I watch Jesus at work in scripture and in the world around us, dreams aren’t so far from reality. The difference is faith. How readily we see God’s dreams fulfilled depends simply on how readily we are willing to take Him at His Word. “With God all things are possible.” (Luke 18:27, my life verse). “. . . .if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” Yes, I’ve also experienced losses when God didn’t seem to respond to “move the mountain” or heal the illness. But when I look back I see many ways He really did do miracles even amidst the pain. God really does keep His promises. He stands with His children guiding us over the mountain or through it until the mountain doesn’t matter as much as who He is. Until He overshadows the mountain. With Him all things really are possible–all of His dreams will come true. We’ve got His Word on that!

    Reply

  3. Ana Luisa Says:

    I enjoyed reading it…
    I wondered what happened during your 5th grade…
    I’m sure that what you ‘missed’ to say in that speach, has been told with your life since then…
    Thanks for the last words of challenge…
    May all your dreams become reality in His name.

    Reply

  4. Jennifer Wood Says:

    We can only expect dreams to be worth dreaming when our dreams meet God’s dream for us: His best!! The only way to follow His dream is to say yes to His extreme! No turning back..No turning back!! When we dream of His perfect Love that drives out all fear..we will never be disappointed..Thanks for posting something about dreams on MLK day…Blessings

    Reply

  5. Oklahoma City Locksmith Says:

    Great post. MLK was a good man.

    Reply

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