City Year corps members took the time to reflect on the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington and the “I Have a Dream” speech on August 28th, just as their service year was beginning. For many of our corps members, the 1963 speech is a reminder of the fight for human rights and social change. City Year corps members serve for many different reasons, and as we approach our first application deadline for the 2014-2015 academic year, we hope that those who are inspired to help others will consider dedicating a year of service with City Year.
Visit our site to learn more and apply to join our corps during the 2014-2015 academic year. The first deadline is September 30.
By Akeem Lloyd, City Year Greater Philadelphia ‘13-‘14, Project Leader
My first encounter with Martin Luther King Jr. and his “I Have A Dream” speech came when I was in 2nd grade. My teacher, Mr. Greeniage a relatively young African American handed out a picture of MLK Jr. and on the back of that paper was his speech. Mr. Greeniage explained to the class how MLK Jr. was a man of character, pride, equality and service. His service was dedicated to people, the uplifting of people, the equality for people, and the human rights for everyone.
When Mr. Greeniage played the soundtrack of the “I Have A Dream” speech, I heard everything he stood for in every line Dr. King said. The tone of his voice vibrated with the much passion he had for service and social justice. At the time I did not comprehend it all, but the tone of his voice never left my memory. It wasn’t until my senior year of high school when I revisited the sound track of his speech, that I started to truly comprehend the importance of service, advocating for equal rights, human rights and social justice.
Mr. Greeniage was living MLK Jr.’s Dream because he was giving back, as a teacher. He referenced Dr. King’s quote, “Anyone can lead because everyone can serve.” I looked up to Mr. Greeniage as a mentor, and because he introduced me to Dr. King and giving back, he helped build my passion for service.
As I reflect on how the March on Washington and MLK Jr. speech inspired my call for service, I think of the mentor position I held throughout high school when I tutored 3rd and 4th graders helping them improve in literacy. I think of my college experience, where I spent four years planting trees in Camden New Jersey, organizing fundraisers for local non-profits for the youth of Camden, running clothes drives.. I think about City Year and the opportunities we give young people to serve the communities where they live. I have dedicated my life to service, advocating for social justice, equal rights and education. The beloved community that City Year has built has rippled out through every corp member who pledges to wear the red jacket. And as City Year, Americorps members we build beloved communities for the students we serve.
I dedicate a part of my service this year to honor the 50th anniversary to The March on Washington and Martin Luther King Jr. speech “I Have a Dream”.