Martin Luther King Jr. would have been 84 years old Tuesday. With the 50th anniversary of Kings I Have a Dream speech just days away, Charleston Southern University invited Jeremiah Dew back to campus Wednesday to pay tribute to the fallen civil rights leader.
The event was not your traditional celebration. After the opening messages and moment of prayer, Dew marched onto the open stage and, with great conviction, led a full house at the Lightsey Chapel back to 1963.
In the midst of a light fog, Dew, suited in black and a pale orange dress shirt, delivered a message about and directly from the lips of King.
I am happy to join with you today he started.
Dew described the original speech in context, recalling the words and message being grounded in activism and a speech that marked the beginning of Kings personal demise.
Its celebrated now, noted Dew. So to be part of that, and executing the dream he had and helping young folks remember or learn for the first time what this was really all about, is a huge thing for me.
1963 is not an end, but a beginning shouted Dew, midway through the speech.
It really takes you through a dark and desolate past, and it hints at those things in the speech, to a bright hope, a great future and a come-togetherness that America experiences in a lot of ways today, compared to 1963 when it was first delivered, Dew explained just minutes before he took the stage.
The Greenville, South Carolina, native said the Dream speech is more than just a performance; it has a deeper significance personally and professionally.
To be in a position in the South, in the Southeastern part of the United States, as a young African-American person like myself, to be able to give this speech shows you so much of what has happened in 50 years in this country, said Dew. I am very blessed to be a part of that.
The truth is 50 years have passed since King delivered the original speech in Washington, D.C. So what relevance does the speech have in todays culture? Dew wove the message with the biblical verse Jeremiah 29:11 which reads:
For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
What is the dream that God has for you? said Dew. Jeremiah 29:11. Not just a dream, but a plan, and how are you executing that today? Of course, college is supposed to prepare you for a vocation, but what is it we need to be doing today and tomorrow. Keep your eyes focused on the dream and look for the plan He has for your life.
thank God Almighty, we are free at last! Dew shouted.
The audience erupted in applause, thanking Dew for the performance and the message.