What happens to a dream deferred? By Simone D. Ross

Today we celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. We take pause to recognize his dream “that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” This is a day for reflection, service, and realignment with Dr. King’s dream.

In his poem Harlem’ Langston Hughes beautifully pens the question “what happens to a dream deferred?” He makes the remarkable assertion that if a dream is not realized it explodes. Presently we’re reconciling the explosion of the deferment of Dr. King’s dream. He envisioned a nation that was an oasis of freedom, justice, and equity. A nation where we are not judged by the color of our skin, but by the content of our character. Although we’ve made strides towards achieving Dr. King’s dream, we have further to go.

Now is the time for us to act with an urgency of equity.

We must deeply examine our character, morals, beliefs, and way of being. As we lead, serve, and impact our communities we’re responsible for ensuring equity has a place throughout every aspect of our existence.

To achieve Dr. King’s dream we must…

  • Actively include intersectional identities in decision making
  • Intentionally create opportunities for economic advancement
  • Ensure diverse representation in our organizations
  • Elevate the voices and experiences of those who’ve been historically excluded
  • Audaciously reject oppression, inequity, hate, and racism of all kinds

Our present and our future are dependent upon the realization of Dr. King’s dream. We each have a stake in bringing Dr. King’s dream to fruition. Most importantly, we all have the power to be bold shepherds of the dream.

If a dream is deferred, it will explode.

-Simone D. Ross, CEO of the Colorado Women’s Chamber of Commerce

Image: The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial in Denver’s City Park. Photo by Aaron Ontiveroz, Denver Post; sculpture by Ed Rose.