image of the Lorraine Hotel at Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. museum

One Man, a Heavenly Dream

Photo: Lorraine Hotel, Memphis by J. Wilder Bill

It takes one voice to bring Heaven to the globe we share. As much as we carve out territories and erect picket fences, containing space is impossible. One voice carries truth in every direction and to all walks of life.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. woke from his last dream in Memphis, Tennessee, the Delta where my dreams began. As I sit a thousand miles away, there is little notice of this national holiday but at the place of his assassination on the anniversary of his death, folks from all across the country make a sojourn to the Lorraine Hotel.

It’s a royal affair with the pilgrims wearing their finest feathered hats, elaborate dresses, and fur coats. Every walk of life drives with their headlights on. Folks who don’t typically have a reason to talk wave and honk to each other as they pass. For decades, a woman lived in a cardboard box outside the hotel, making a statement.

Dr. King’s early death symbolizes a dream cut short from ripening into completion. While his poetry gives African Americans the confidence to be accepted by their peers, his message does not deliver them beyond a limited concept of equality.

Glancing through the United States Census Bureau reports, I see the steady 23% climb from the 1960s to the present in the number of African Americans who earn a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited college. Yet, according to the Bureau, African Americans earn the lowest annual income. I get it, their people are suppressed because they don’t have the privileges others enjoy. But what exactly does that mean?

A large majority of millionaires, according to Statista, are of Caucasian descent. Oftentimes, first generation immigrants of non Western European ancestry consider themselves to be white.

Forbes lists more than 10% of millionaires in the U.S. as first generation immigrates. As a matter of fact, it’s not just African Americans who miss out. Immigrants become entrepreneurs at double the rate of residents born in the U.S. The Bureau reports 8% of the millionaire population are African Americans, born and raised in on their turf.

The successes or failures a person experiences is a reflection of his mindset – the image he has about himself. Self image creates road blocks that can be eliminated by his perceiving himself as capable of reaching certain goals and filling a chosen image.

If someone doesn’t find a value in opportunities, his self perceived image will override his ability to take that next step toward his goal. The New York Post provides that minorities accepted into colleges under an affirmative action program are less likely to graduate. California eradicated its affirmative action plan in 1996, and the percentage of minorities who stayed in college and earned their degrees doubled.

An article by the Technology Innovation Management Review stresses the significance in how a person perceives the value of what he receives. An individual might desire the value of attending college, or even the more basic needs of receiving food and shelter. His perceived value is his expectation of what the product, service or education will provide to him – how it will change his life. A critical element of the value is the “emotional payoff and achievement of a goal or desire.”

Receiving something for free or without having to provide anything in return causes the recipient to asses the product, service or shelter, as having a lower value. Having a thing that has no value leaves the recipient feeling unfulfilled, and essentially lowers his self confidence.

Not only the results of receiving the item or service provide a value. The recipient needs the fulfillment of providing something in exchange for the product, service or education in order to determine what its value is, in order to gain a sense of achievement in meeting that goal of earning the item or service. The value is determined before and after receiving.

How many gifts have you discarded? How often have you loaned something to a relative or friend, only to have it returned damaged or never returned, at all?

The next step in achieving Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s dream is for our education system to incorporate self esteem courses beginning in elementary school. While Dr. King is an inspiration to today’s leaders in continuing his social progress, today’s speakers are spreading the same message he shared over forty years ago. The social climate has changed, and the cause to generate progress is not at the same road block. With a different issue at hand, the solution has changed, as well.

Dr. King’s spoken dreams are realized. We have this day to recognize the good in where our society is in the present moment. Still, this holiday signifies our time for a new approach. If Dr. King had lived to a ripe age, his message would have shifted to meet our current level of humanitarian growth in our global goal to assimilate Heaven on Earth.

It is right for minorities to apply the thoughts and visualizations with an intention to view themselves as achieving their goals independently. They have the capacity and strengths and talents to accomplish their dreams. They deserve the confidence gained through the fulfillment of an achievement. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. lived the life of a man with the confidence to share his image, and to believe in African Americans receiving the benefit of his confidence.

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