Today is the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s iconic “I Have A Dream” speech on August 28, 1963. Thousands marched and gathered peacefully on the Mall in Washington, DC. to hear the civil rights leader’s 17-minute speech about the African-American experience, a non-violent approach to unite Americans and equality for all races.
Before Dr. King delivered that famous speech, our Chinese-American parents had a dream, too. Their dream was to move us to a nice, safe neighborhood with good public schools in 1962. They worked hard and saved so that we would have a college education.
In 1962, the Civil Rights movement was underway with bus boycotts. Dr. King and civil rights activists were arrested and jailed in Georgia. The U.S. Supreme Court banned race separation on public transportation. On Sept. 20, 1962, President John F. Kennedy ordered 3,000 federal troops to Mississippi. On the same day, James Meredith became the first black student to register at the University of Mississippi.
In 1962, there were hardly no ethnic or minority families in the upper-middle class neighborhood where our parents bought a vacant lot. Despite opposition from homeowners, our parents pressed on and built their new home a few streets away from the elementary school.
If our immigrant parents had given up their dream or been denied opportunity, I would not have been a student in Ms. Bryan’s sixth grade class. Nor would my sisters or brother attended the public schools in this new neighborhood.
After Dr. King’s far-reaching speech in 1963 and the impact of the Civil Rights movement, the same neighborhood has newer homes and more families of all races and ethnic backgrounds today. We are eternally grateful to all who supported our parents’ dream and opened doors of opportunity in our education, careers and lives. We wish the same for you. That’s our dream.
To view the entire MLK Dream Speech, go to YouTube.com. Type in “MLK I have a dream speech” in the Search Box.