I remember in 3rd grade, I first heard the famous refrain from the "I Have A Dream" speech. As a child, I believed that anything was possible, including a world where the content of one's character was more important than one's appearance. I was optimistic for a better world even though I did not know how bad the world I lived in was.
I never experienced racism as a child in Chicago, although I lived in a segregated society. When it was time for me to ride the bus, I could sit wherever I wanted. When I went to a store, I did not have to enter in the rear entrance. When it was time for me to register to vote, I had no problems doing so. When I found out that the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the author of that great sermon, was one of the driving forces to make those things possible, I was inspired.
As an ardent student of Black History, it appalled me that American citizens were denied these basic rights because of the way God made them. Therefore, as I read about the struggles of the Civil Rights Movement and how Dr. King, using tactics from Gandhi and guided by his Christian theology, became the inspirational leader of that movement, I was motivated to follow the calling God placed in me.
That calling was politics. I believed that through public service, I could contribute to making "The Dream" a reality for all of America's citizens. Economic opportunity, personal advancement, peaceful co-existence, those were the goals of the movement and of Dr. King. I adopted those goals as well, and did my dead-level best to create legislation that allowed those things to come to fruition.
My inspiration was fueled by an internal passion to do well, but it was guided by a very simple principle Dr. King stated, "A man who has nothing to die for, is not fit to live." I took it as a challenge personally to do all that I could to do what needed to be done.
I am a better person because of Dr. King. Hopefully, when my life is over in this realm, I will hear the words, "Well done, my good and faithful servant." When I hear that, then I know that I lived up to the expectations Dr. King believed all of us could achieve as children of God.