January can be a somewhat depressing month in our area because of the persistent snow, cold and dreary days. But despite the weather, this January has been very exciting for me and for Wayne Township. I was honored to have been asked to participate in two celebrations of Martin Luther King Day, and I was humbled when I received two distinguished awards this month.
One of the Martin Luther King Day celebrations in which I participated was at Ivy Tech Community College, where I gave the keynote address. Most of us are familiar with Dr. King’s famous speech, “I Have a Dream.” To prepare for my keynote address, I reviewed this powerful and moving speech.
Dr. King gave this speech on August 28, 1963, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. The speech was delivered to over 200,000 civil rights supporters, both Black and White, and was a defining moment of the Civil Rights Movement.
Some of my favorite quotes from the speech and ones that are often quoted include the following. “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.” Also, “I have a dream that my . . . 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.” And, “Let freedom ring. And when this happens, . . . Black men and White men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics will be able to join hands and sing…Free at Last! Free at Last!”
I am old enough to remember when Dr. King gave this speech, but most Ivy Tech students are not. Nor, are they old enough to fully understand the context in which the speech was delivered. I wanted to stress to them how far we have come since 1963 and also that we still have farther to go. That is why I titled my speech, “Achieving the Dream.”
We as a Nation are recognizing that the “Dream” is not impossible to achieve. The “Dream” is an ideal that we can now grasp and seek to implement. We have made great strides with the elections of President Obama and even with my election as Wayne Township Trustee.
Yet we still have disparity in such areas as housing, health care, unemployment and education. In my speech at Ivy Tech, I wanted to inspire the students of today to continue working toward achieving the “Dream” of equality for all, the same dream Martin Luther King spoke about so many years ago.
In addition to being the keynote speaker at the Ivy Tech celebration, I served as the Master of Ceremonies at the Martin Luther King Jr. Unity Day sponsored by the Martin Luther King Club of Fort Wayne at the Grand Wayne Center. This event has taken place for the past twenty-six years to commemorate Martin Luther King Day. The keynote speaker this year was Mrs. Hana Stith, one of the founders and curator of the African/African-American History Museum here in Fort Wayne.
And if these events were not enough, I was very surprised to be presented the “Jesse White Award” on New Years Day at True Love Baptist Church. This award was very special to me because it is named for a man who was not only a pastor, but a long-time activist in our community. Further, I was named “Citizen of the Year” by the African/African-American History Museum.
As you can see, January has been a very busy month. I feel so blessed to serve as your Wayne Township Trustee, a position that gives me the opportunity to offer help and leadership to young people and to help our entire community.
Richard A. Stevenson, Sr.
Wayne Township Trustee
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