‘I have a dream’: Sharing Martin Luther King Jr.’s message of racial equality

Former students reflect on ‘I Have a Dream’ speech

“I have a dream.” Those words are synonymous with Martin Luther King Jr. and his message of racial equality first recited in Detroit.

DETROIT – “I have a dream.” Those words are synonymous with Martin Luther King Jr. and his message of racial equality first recited in Detroit.

They’ve been recited many times since then to keep his message alive. It’s a powerful speech that still brings tears to the eyes of people of all races when you think about how Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream has impacted our culture.

READ: Remembering the day Martin Luther King Jr. debuted precursor to ‘I Have A Dream’ speech in Detroit

It’s even more impactful when you look at how far we’ve come as a country, especially in the eyes of children.

“My grandfather had Martin Luther King here for the Freedom Walk and that was the first time that the speech was debuted at New Bethel Baptist Church,” Cristal Franklin said.

Cristal Franklin, Aretha Franklin’s niece and Reverend C.L., Franklin’s granddaughter, are keeping that part of Detroit Black history alive.

In 2004, 16 years ago, she had students at Detroit’s Foreign Language Immersion Cultural Studies school recite the “I Have A Dream” speech in five languages; Japanese, Chinese, French, Spanish and English. The audience went wild, giving a standing ovation.

The students, all under the age of 12 at the time, got together recently with Cristal Franklin to look back and discuss the speech’s impact on our country then and now. It was emotional, to say the least.

“Having a dream and seeing it coming to pass and it’s still going, of course, we’re not there yet,” said former FLICS student, Katie Hoke.

“The fact that I have a son now and with everything going on in the world. The fact that my son can walk outside now and be killed because of the color of his skin my part especially meant a lot to me,” said former FLICS student, Ayana Adams.

“Unfortunately, because in reality Dr. King’s dream has not been fully realized,” said former FLICS student Brooklin Hardiman. “I would say part of his dream has been brought into fruition.”

READ: 57 years ago: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivers precursor to ‘I Have A Dream’ speech in Detroit

Brooklin Hardiman, Cristal Franklin’s daughter, was the youngest at the time she, Adams, Hoke and other students recited the speech back in 2004. She and the other students still remember the impact it had on them then and now.

“We still have an issue with police brutality,” said Hardiman. “We still have an issue with a lot of the things he talked about in the speech today. His dream is always applicable until it’s fully realized.”

But it continues to inspire them, and many others, in any language.

If you would like to see the full video of the 2004 “I Have A Dream” speech recital, please click here.

READ: Black History Month coverage

About the Author:

Evrod Cassimy is the morning anchor for Local 4 News Today. He joined WDIV in August of 2013. He is an award winning journalist and a six-time Emmy Award nominee. Evrod was born in Michigan but grew up in the Chicagoland area.