“I have a dream.”
Growing up in and around Chicago in the 1960s, I was exposed to the significant racial tensions and issues common in America at the time, and especially relevant to Chicago.
Anyone alive today should know the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. One man who did more to advocate for racial equality than anyone since perhaps Abraham Lincoln.
In 1966, King and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) announced plans for the Chicago Freedom Movement. This was a campaign to expand civil rights activities from the South to northern cities. King believed that “the moral force of SCLC’s nonviolent movement philosophy was needed to help eradicate a vicious system which seeks to further colonize thousands of Negroes within a slum environment” (King, 18 March 1966).
Of course, King is probably best and most widely know for his energizing and transforming speech, “I Have a Dream,” delivered on August 28, 1963, during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. The speech was considered a defining moment in the civil rights movement and considered one of the most iconic speeches in American history.
Taken alone and without any context, the statement, “I have a dream,” means nothing. Most people have dreams. This statement is set apart, however, because it was part of a speech that was so powerful and so memorable, the phrase itself needs little contextualization today. King’s speech was clearly transformative, leading to civil rights legislation that ultimately changed the course of American history.
Martin Luther King Jr. was a man of clear purpose. He dedicated his live to his vision that America would truly be a land where “all men are created equal,” and securing progress on civil rights in the United States. Today we remember him for his commitment to his purpose, and we recognize the meaning of the title of his most famous speech, “I Have a Dream,” with little explanation.
Call to action: No matter your role – project manager, PMO leader, change manager and especially project executive or sponsor, be sure your purpose is clear. You don’t necessarily need a four-word slogan to sum it up, but your ability to clearly articulate your vision and purpose is vital to the success of your change.
Photo credit: Woubishet Z. Taffese on Unsplash