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The Dream Endures

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Albright College Marks 50th Anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" Speech

By Hilary Bentman

John Morgan ’63 teetered on the edge of the reflecting pool, crowded by a sea of humanity.

The 22-year-old was surrounded by more than 250,000 men and women who, like Morgan, had descended on Washington, D.C., that day, marching for racial and economic equality.

They stood before the Lincoln Memorial, listening as civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., spoke of his dream. It was so crowded that Morgan began to stumble into the pool.

But suddenly, a hand reached out and pulled him safely back. That hand belonged to a black man that Morgan did not know. Fifty years later, the two men remain close friends.

The incident reminds Morgan, who teaches philosophy and ethics in Albright College’s Accelerated Degree Program, of the “incredible power of ordinary actions.”

These small acts of kindness are “what you remember,” Morgan told a crowd of people assembled at the College on Wednesday to mark the 50th anniversary of the Aug. 28, 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom and the day King delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech.

Albright faculty and staff, alumni and other members of the community gathered for two services in Kachel Chapel in Teel Hall to commemorate the occasion and to reflect on the racism and strife still present today. Albright’s chaplain, the Rev. Paul Clark ’73, organized and led the informal gatherings, which he called a “liturgy of memory and hope.”

“There were doors that were opened in history. Some may have closed. But I think they’re still open,” said Clark, who played recordings of King speaking and of the civil rights’ song, “This Little Light of Mine.” Clark’s message, echoed by so many on Wednesday, was succinct: the country has made great progress in achieving equality but there is still much work to be done.

“There is still a movement and it must be kept moving,” said Clark, who turned to the audience and asked them to share their thoughts. Several people expressed concerns about the nation’s widening economic gap, the ongoing battle over voting rights, and the ubiquitous threats to peace, particularly in Syria.

“We can’t just hope for a better future. We have to step up,” said Andrea Eiland ’11. “What’s the sense of waiting when we can do it now? We can realize Dr. King’s dream in our lives.”

Clark ended the commemoration by thanking King for his work and sacrifice, which made such a gathering possible.

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