On Wednesday, the 28th of August, students, faculty, and members of the Asheville community gathered at the steps of UNCA’s Ramsey Library to hear a recitation of Dr. Martin Luther King’s legendary “I Have A Dream” address.
Delivering equality’s famed anthem was Jazz Cathcart. Executive director of the “I Have a Dream” Foundation of Asheville and associate pastor of Highland Christian Church are only two of the titles by which Jazz is known. To us, Jazz is more familiarly recognized as a beloved part of our Montreat family.
After graduating in 2007, Jazz went on to resume full-time work in ministry as the outreach director of the YMCA of western North Carolina. It was during this time that he was first connected with the “I Have A Dream” Foundation of Asheville. Later, he would join the organization, and after spending nearly two years with them, would become integral part of their leadership team.
The “IHAD” Foundation, which specializes in providing social and educational resources for elementary through high school aged children, provided a key player in the “50 Year Commemoration” service in the person of Jazz Cathcart who delivered MLK’s powerful speech in its entirety. We were able to catch up our old friend after the event and talk about the global (and personal) impact of Dr. Kings words.
“Dr. King’s original presentation signifies so much to me… his idea was so authoritative, compelling, and moving because it was ultimately rooted in something deeper than the American dream itself… his dream was and is rooted in the heart of the Almighty God. His vision for true liberty and equality between men and women of different ethnicities was grounded, fundamentally, in so much more than values merely agreed upon democratically by human beings. Dr. King’s speech is a cry to reject a system of values that merely honor the subjective vote of people, but rather, rallies the establishment of a society that recognizes the intrinsic value of God-ordained principles. The civil rights movement was indeed a theological campaign. Before Dr. King was a dynamic speaker he was a gospel preacher… so ultimately, I thank Jesus Christ for my American freedom, Dr. King was a beautiful conduit.
“The fulfillment of Dr. King’s dream is similar to the fulfillment of the Kingdom of God through Christ: already here and not yet here at the same time. What can we as Americans do to make Dr. King’s dream a reality? First and foremost, I believe that we should faithfully examine our own hearts to evaluate if our inner man is one that walks with the integrity and equality that Dr. King exhibited. We all have prejudices and stereotypes that have indeed come from our experiences. I believe we need to filter our minds through the pure water of God’s word and through continual honest self-evaluation to determine if we are truly walking in the love and equality that was articulated in the life of Jesus.
“Secondly, we should gently and boldly challenge the systems, people, and mentalities that we find that lie outside of conformity to Dr. King’s beautiful dream. This may mean contributing time and or resources to mentoring programs like the “I Have a Dream ” Foundation so you can help young minorities carve out a path to escape the chains of poverty to become more than they’ve inherited, or this could mean having an honest, challenging conversation with a family member about a racist comment or a way of thinking that they may have.
“Ultimately, we all have a roll to play both directly and indirectly. If we do our part to live Dr. King’s dream, we will truly see it materialized both outwardly as well as inwardly.”
What can YOU do to make Dr. King’s dream a reality?