Beyond the Dream: Bernice King Urges Students to Reclaim Her Father's Cause

Dr. Bernice King paid tribute to her famous father and, drawing from his most celebrated speech, encouraged the hundreds of students, college staff and visitors who gathered today to hear her on Valencia’s East Campus to “move beyond the dream.”

King’s presentation, titled “Raising the Standard,” was meant as a call to action—especially to students—to become more civically engaged in their communities and the world.

King drew laughter from the crowd when she explained the reason why the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial in Washington, D.C. didn’t have the “I have a dream” speech inscribed on it and instead features another one of his speeches: “Even God was sick and tired of hearing ‘I have a dream’ and wanted the world to get on with the rest of [King’s] ideas,” she said.

Those ideas, she said, have to do with sacrifice, calling it “an uncomfortable word in this generation.” She said students need to find some time to make a difference in the lives of others rather than focusing solely on personal gain.

Speaking of “systems crashing, the environment in danger,” and widespread poverty, she said, “I’m here to wake some people up, because we are in the most critical time in our history.” She added, “I also know that we can change this if there are young people who take serious the fact that you’ve been placed on this earth for a reason–beyond your own individualistic concerns.”

King said the biggest challenge society faces is not injustice but complacency. She said her father read the dictionary as a child, entered college by age 15 and graduated at 19, and that he was driven “not to waste a moment, not knowing what his life would end up being.”

She acknowledged the gains made over the last five decades in addressing racial inequalities, but said that it was up to today’s youth to ensure that the freedoms won by previous generations were preserved.  Speaking for almost an hour and touching on wide-ranging topics from the occupy movement (“Thank God there is a movement”), to the uprising in Egypt, to the student loan debt crisis, the speaker, author and minister said, “We have given over our power to institutions…corporations. And it gives us a personal excuse to not be involved in the problems of the world.”

She urged students to not only vote during election cycles but to take their concerns directly to elected officials, to organize around a cause and to even become agitators in an effort to bring about “systemic change.”

“You know what’s missing in our nation’s capital? It’s the voice of your generation,” she said.

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