DREAMers and the Dream Essay Contest
“When will we be satisfied?... No, we are not satisfied, and
will we not be satisfied until justice rolls down like water and righteousness
like a mighty stream.”
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King
marks the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream”
speech, arguably one of the most important orations in American history. In it,
King articulates his vision of a society in which people will be “judged not by
the color of their skin, but the content of their character,” and where people
of all ethnicities, races and faiths can “sit down together at the table of
brotherhood” and sing “in the words of the old Negro spiritual, ‘Free at last,
free at last, thank God almighty we are free at last.’”
King’s speech is often seen as the keystone of a civil
rights movement involving millions of Americans that culminated with the
passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which eliminated legal segregation, and
the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which lifted barriers to voting by minorities. But
King was not only concerned with voting rights and the indignities of legal
segregation. King spoke out forcefully about other issues which he saw as
related to the cause of civil rights—a war in which the young men who were
drafted mostly came from low-income families, and that people who worked hard
for a living had to struggle to survive, while others enjoyed great wealth and
Today, the issues of civil rights, including the issues of
economic inequality and of war are still very much with us, although they have
changed. The worst, legal forms of segregation and discrimination have given
way to subtler forms, like Voter ID laws that are discriminatory in their effect.
In many ways the main battlefront for civil rights now is immigration,
particularly for young people who either were brought here without documents in
their youth and are denied citizenship rights, or who see their families torn
apart when their undocumented-immigrant parents are detained and deported.
Economic inequality is far worse now than during King’s life, as young people
from poor families find that they have less chance of improving their standard
of living than at any time since the Great Depression. Finally, the men and now
women who serve in our armed forces may be volunteers, but often their reason
for volunteering has more to do with the lack of other opportunities than a
desire to serve.
call this essay contest “DREAMers and the Dream” in order to suggest a
connection between the issue of immigration and Dr. King’s call for equal
treatment for all. But this is not the only way to think about civil rights
today. Has the goal of freedom for all been achieved? Should we “be satisfied”?
If not, what more can be done, and what do you think is your role in moving the
cause of civil rights forward?
The contest is open to all students with Freshman standing enrolled full- or
part-time at UTB.
Submit a one-page, double-spaced essay (approx. 250–300 word)
by December 9, 2013 to email@example.com.
prize $1,000 scholarship
First prize $500 scholarship
Second prize $250
Winners will be
announced at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service event, January 20, 2014