This was the theme of the 2011 Dream Keepers awards ceremony honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. One hundred- fifty-eight students from the Bradley County and Cleveland City school systems were named as recipients of the award. However, not all of the students were present to receive the honor.
During the ceremony, the Rev. Vincent Jackson, program manager for First Helping Street Outreach at D.C. Central Kitchen in Washington, D.C., spoke about King and the importance of hard work in fulfilling dreams.
Jackson said King “put everything he had into everything he did.” This is one of the qualities of a Dream Keeper.
“There is never a major change without a challenge,” Jackson said, challenging those present to be committed to taking a stand and getting involved instead of just watching things happen.
Jackson told about King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” in which King answers a letter from eight ministers telling him to take his time and not be as zealous in his efforts for change.
King’s answer, according to Jackson, was that any moment was the right time to do what is right and good. Jackson emphasized that King said to dream bigger than the status quo, and not to do something just because everyone else is.
He emphasized the difference between a “pipe dream” and a real dream.
A pipe dream is simply talked about, while a real dream is worked toward every day.
One way to keep a dream alive is to write it down and put it somewhere you can see it every day. Jackson said this keeps it always on your mind and holds you accountable. He said it is also important to tell others who will encourage and help you plan how to possibly make the dream a reality.
Jackson said some people are in your life for a reason and others are in your life for a season.
A true dreamer cannot be intimidated by ridicule, he said.
“The people who pick on you now, will be asking you for a job later,” Jackson said, after telling of a student who had intentionally gotten a “C” on his report card so he would not be called a nerd.
Addressing the 2011 Dream Keepers, Jackson told them to study character and conduct as they work toward their dreams.
“Be a person the future depends on,” he challenged.
In order to be eligible for the award, students must be in middle school or high school, be of African-American descent and have at least a 3.0 GPA for the fall semester, according to Angelique Ware, who oversees who is chosen for the award.
The honored students received a certificate of achievement and a grab bag courtesy of Lee University.
The Dream Keepers awards were started in 1994 by the Ministers Fellowship of Cleveland-Bradley County as a way to encourage academic achievement and honor King’s memory.