Not all dreams die. Some pick up more relevance, weight and strength the longer they're around.
This year Utah's black community, colleges, universities and many others have slated an unprecedented commemoration for Martin Luther King Day.Dr. Afesa Adams of the University of Utah explains.
"We do not perceive the honoring of him as simply a black event," she says. "We think that Martin Luther King, the issues he stood for and the changes he sought are consistent with the principles of a democratic society and integral to the foundation that this country is built upon."
Black speakers and Afro-American events will be highlighted again this year, of course, to help students and the community understand a little more about the culture that spawned such a great leader. (The accompanying sidebar lists the activities planned.) But Adams is quick to point out that it is definitely not an "inside" operation. Like the man, the Martin Luther King celebrations are for anyone.
King's life has been traced time and again - much like that well-worn path he trod in the 1963 "March on Washington." Born in Atlanta in 1929, awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, assassinated in 1968. The facts come back. And people like Afesa Adams want to make sure they do. Not just to help "black awareness," but to help to stimulate the notion that people with vision can make a difference, anywhere, at any time.
"One of the things the civil rights movement did," she says, "was to serve as an impetus for other groups to seek their own improvement. Many other groups. The whole peace movement, for instance. We see Dr. King's birthday as a vehicle of sorts. It provides the community an opportunity to rethink some of the things we do in this country."
In the past, several people have heightened the commemoration with their rhetoric and their ideals. When asked to list some of the high points, Adams has a book full.
"I have never seen a group as moved as the audience was with Maya Angelou," says Adams. "And the African American Dance Ensemble led me to realize how much talent and sensitivity we have among black people.
"We do ourselves a disservice by not extending ourselves into other cultures. People who don't develop an understanding of the Afro-Americans, the Mormons, the Hispanics and other cultures really do lose something."
Some of the events that people in the community may be most interested in this year include a visit from baseball great Willie Stargell at Weber State College on Jan. 12, a speech by Myrlie Evers - wife of Medgar Evers - at the University of Utah on Jan. 13, the Jubilee Singers at Kingsbury Hall on Jan. 14 and a candlelight vigil with Julian Bond at Utah State University on Jan. 18.