The air was heavy with somber emotion and the hush fell thick in the little auditorium on that rainy day in Atlanta Georgia.
As I walked through Ebenezer Church on Jackson street, I closed my eyes tight and tried to imagine what it would have been like to live in that community, at that point of history, in this part of the world.
To walk side by side with an individual who would go down in infamy as one of the most influential men of our time.
My hand brushed the light wooden pews as I looked around at the stained glass windows, sparkling as rain drops dripped drearily across them.
We slowly wound in and out of the room, as though we were winding in and out of history only ever brushing up against it and never able to fully understand all that took place in the hearts of the people who sat in those pews.
We found our way downstairs to the Fellowship Hall, cool and white and quiet.
We read the words on the wall, telling us the story of that incredible family who really did live and die in this place.
There weren't as many visitors as I expected.
But, maybe, I shouldn’t have been surprised.
Maybe I was naive to have expected hundreds of people to pause and remember the life of a man who fought for equality in a country where so much hate still exists.
Slowly a voice emerged from the front of the room.
A gentlemen in a suit announced that in just a few moments, a presentation was about to begin. This presentation was a special, unique event: An impersonation of one of MLK’s most influential speeches, done by the only man in the world who was licensed by the King Family to impersonate him.
We quickly sat down, anxiously awaiting the opportunity to learn, to grasp, to glean anything from the life of this man who so often seems more of a legend than a real individual.
I looked around as black and white gathered in folding chairs in a brick church in a normal neighborhood at the outskirts of Atlanta.
And in that little basement, just for a moment, heaven touched earth and goodness was seen and justice was spoken.
The voice of equality, of hope, of a dream that seemed so impossible rose above the sounds of hate, and violence, and revenge that previously had seemed so prevalent.
“I say to you today, my friends, even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream.”
These words echoed off the walls and the tears felt thick in my eyes as I thought about what this dream looked like today, in our world, in our generation.
Suddenly, the shootings and the riots and all of the evil that has invaded our world seemed to grow strangely dim and the sounds of angry shouts and inherited hatred seemed muffled.
As I heard these words, spoken with passion and with belief, the dream seemed real and even…possible.
Our world is hurting and unity seems as pervasive as ever.
But in the midst of fear, and anger, and injustice we must never give up on the dream.
We must remember those who have tirelessly walked these roads and bravely dreamed these dreams.
We all need to walk past the divides and sit in a posture of humility to hear the stories of others.
The baton is now in our hands and it is our turn to carry the dream forward.
It’s yours and it’s mine.
It is time to speak boldly, act courageously, unite humbly, and live differently.
It is time to ask questions, to admit our own naiveté and to seek to understand.
Let’s unite around the dream.
Let’s commit to see the next generation to grow up in a different world.
Let’s be a country unified in hope, centered around a dream, and committed to justice for all.