Keeping King's 'Dream' alive for next generation


Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s famous words from his historic "I have A Dream" speech delivered from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial 50 years ago have come to symbolize the hope of a people fighting for the soul of a nation.

But has time diminished the power of the words and the message for succeeding generations of children far removed from that day in Washington, D.C.?

Memphis Central High School social studies teacher Mary McIntosh is making sure the lessons of history are never lost on her students.

MORE: NCRM sings MLK's 'Dream' on 50th anniversary
MORE: President, nation mark 50th March on Washington
MORE: Marking 50th anniversary of MLK's speech (

It was hot late August day outside Central High Wednesday in Memphis. Conditions much similar to a magical time exactly  50 years ago.

"We talking about in our journal. What is the impact of the March and what is its legacy? Meaning the March on Washington 50 years ago today," McIntosh said.

As she does everyday in the classroom McIntosh is encouraging her noon-hour students to make their own personal connection with historic events. It's an appropriate setting and particularly the right topic to tackle considering the ethnic diversity of her 24 students mirrors what Dr. King dreamed would one day be the integrated face of a nation.

"How does the March on Washington fit into what we've talked about? The relationship of the individual and society?," said.

"These people who were not part of a whole society cause everything was segregated," said one of her students. "There was not a whole. So, suddenly these small group of people start doing this thing. Then all these other people start thinking, oh, it's okay to voice out our opinion on this. It kind of brought a bunch of people together."

Posing thought provoking questions and getting plenty of feedback, McIntosh's class doesn't appear to consist of the usual educational rote of learning historical dates by month and day. She doesn't want them to interpret history as much as getting the students to create their own "buzz" about how they can view it through their own eyes and how it relates to their families.

In the case of the March on Washington on Aug. 28, 1963, that connection does surprisingly take on a real life with one student.

"Does anybody in this classroom have personal experience with a relative or a friend that they know who was actually in Washington for that March that day?," she asked.

"My grandmother," one student said. "She told me that it was very important for her to be there and it made history. It let her know that it's okay for her to accomplish her dreams and believe in her dreams."

The speech just really opened up everybody's minds and opened their eyes. That these are Americans and they do have rights and we should listen to them.

Click here to leave a comment on our Facebook page
Click here to comment on our Twitter