A Middle-Schooler Muses On Dr. King, Dreams, and Education

Photograph of Yumin Jeong taken by her teacher, Jermaine Shakespeare.

Born and raised in South Korea, Yumin Jeong started learning English at nine years old in the Philippines and moved to the United States at the age of 11. Yumin is a 7th grade student at Duluth Middle School in Gwinnett County, Georgia. She is passionate about literature and writing and hopes to become a distinguished writer.

What do you think of when you hear the word ‘dream’? Personally, I can’t picture a clear image of the word for I believe that a dream is something that is quite tricky to define. Dreams most often come in a delightful way usually visualizing something that is pretty, hopeful, and bright. This can be a dream that someone thinks of in hopes of accomplishment, rather known as “making one’s dreams come true” in the near future, or it can be a fantasy-like dream that you, me, and the world knows that it will never happen. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s dream is, or was, actually quite confusing to classify, for during the time he lived, his dream seemed rather impossible to make happen, but later he proved that he was able to break the stereotype of people’s minds.

Compared to Dr. King’s dream, our very own individual dreams may look very small and simple. Indeed, many of us would most likely not risk our lives to see our dreams come true. Our dreams would probably not be as important as Dr. King’s dream, unless it was for world peace—which is one of my dreams that I am afraid will never happen under the current circumstances. But, no matter how small or big our dreams are, they are still considered as your goals, so it is important for us to bring them to life.

Now, as some background information about our topic, I found out that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was born into a black, middle-income family and had probably not felt as much misery as the others of that time did. Even so, he was still unable to escape the harsh trap of racism. But inspired from the rebellion of Rosa Parks and the continual support from his parents, Dr. King was able to build up his dream of peace, lead the boycott against racist rules and laws to bring the Civil Rights Act, and end many unfair laws. He gave quite an amount of speeches across the whole country and throughout the world spreading his word of wisdom which inspired people of every race that gave a new hope toward our uncertain future.

From this, I would proudly state that Dr. King was, and is the exact example of how we should bring our dream to reality and make what seems impossible possible. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was able to bring the unfair cruelty of segregation down through years and years of constant efforts during his life. From this we’re very much honored to be able to do anything and most importantly, to learn and be educated wherever and whenever we want to in any location in this country without regard to being judged by the skin we’re in.  For who we truly are under those colors, we’re all equal to each other in a meaningful way. Dr. King incredulously allowed us all to receive an education – something that we were naturally supposed to have in the first place. So from his contribution, we’re able to know what he went through, by attending school and learning about him as well as learning about other subjects that give us the knowledge to carry on with our lives. Even now, he is one of the main reasons why I, and so many other students, can write like this and helped make it possible for me to learn English in America, which wouldn’t have been possible too, if he and others after him didn’t devote their lives to make it happen. From this, I have to say that I think the majority of the reasons why America is very diverse and in other ways ‘successful’ were due to Dr. King and his followers, who allowed us to receive a fair education, which eventually led to giving opportunities for people of any race to become successful and contribute to the country; we should always honor him for those reasons.

But because our current generations have become complacent over time, it seems like the whole inspiration and work Dr. King and other great historians devoted to our country have lost some of its meaning. Recalling back to our past life, what have we done to bring our dream into reality? Critically, the majority of the people in our world have dreamed of something and just sat there hoping and praying for their wish to come true. It has become so rare to find anyone who stands up for what they believe and take their life fully into it. Of course, I don’t mean that nobody out there who follows Dr. King’s trails, for I also know quite a few people who have devoted their lives to change the reality, but as for the teenagers of my age who are the ‘future’ for a better world, I can’t really say much. You know without any particular reasons, the younger generations get so placid about the world that it becomes so meaningless. Honestly, to say the truth, I feel a bit ashamed to state that opinion, for I know that I am not incredibly different from the others that I’m referring to. But even so, I sometimes wonder if this is all the worth I, or we can bring. I indeed have a dream too, after all—that I repeatedly push away from myself with unreasonable excuses. I dream of myself growing into a passionate, distinctive person that someone can look up to. I dream of a community where judgment from other people is not everything that clarifies our individual self. I dream of a world where unreasonable hatred ceases and is replaced by a more understanding society that I can proudly share the next generation of growing, innocent children. All these dreams I think of, seemed too big to me, until I knew why it was so far away—even though it actually didn’t fix the my situation quite much.

So why are dreams ‘dreams’? And why does it seem like we are just so far away from reaching our dreams? That’s because we don’t do anything but just complain that our reality is too tied for us to do what we want to do. Now, let’s honestly admit it—we’re all scared of reality. We’re scared of the realities that hide beneath our dreams. The realities that make us cringe in the corner for giving up what we loved to do, or that force us to do what everybody else does. The realities that make us throw away our uniqueness, creativeness, our hope, and our desires. We’re too scared to run towards our dream because you know that you might not be able to reach your dream no matter how frantically you try. Nobody wants to feel the disappointment, the sense of futility, or the surging of emotional pain that would silently fall upon you after a failure. But, was Martin Luther King Jr. scared of the reality? Did he ever doubt about what he was doing? No. He pursued his dream, devoted his life, and ‘tried’ a million times to bring the justice to the world. It is after all our own selves that put us into despair, giving up our dreams without even trying. You never really think of finding the answer to your despair. Once you start coming up with a bunch of negative judgments, you just flatly stick with it without trying to look for the door to free yourself from the disgusting room of negative hopelessness.  How many of us have just sat there thinking that there was no possible way out without even really looking?

I know I might sound very, very, old fashioned and cheesy saying this, but together, we can make a difference. We now know how to turn the untouchable dreams into reality, so all we have to do is calmly achieve our goal step by step from even a small matter to larger issues, and respect what those in the past has done to make it possible for us to stand where we are right now. We have to continue the path that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and many others have made for us, to bring ‘their’ dream and ‘our’ dream together into reality.


ž   Duarte, Nancy (2011) “Communicate Like MLK and Change the Worldin Duarte Blog.

ž   Harris, Jacqueline L.  “Grolier’s The New Book of Knowledge in Scholastic News.

ž   Millender, Dharathula H. (1986) “Martin Luther King, Jr.: Young Man With A Dream.” in Aladdin Books.

One Comment

    Jermaine ShakespearePositive Things says:

    Great job, Yumin. You brought a “aged”, but youthful perspective to Dr. King’s legacy and how it pertains to education. Keep up the good work and we hope to read more from you!

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