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From Dream to Reality

April 17, 2013

I’m a member of the Olympic Orators Toastmasters Club of American Fork, UT. This is a speech I gave recently.

I’ve had friends ask why I joined Toastmasters? After all, I was a corporate trainer for Microsoft for years, presenting classes all around the world. I also trained other trainers. I’ve run companies where I had to make presentations to my investors and my customers. I’ve held senior manager positions where I needed to regularly present to upper management. I’m not what you’d call shy and I do a reasonable job of presenting.

There are two reasons I joined Toastmasters.

Lifetime Learning

I’m comfortable presenting, but there are certainly things I can learn. It would be pretty arrogant for me to suggest that I’m a good enough speaker that I can’t learn more.

Networking, Networking, Networking

I enjoy the opportunity to meet fellow businesspeople from my town. We meet at noon on Tuesdays to give people an opportunity to come during their lunch hour. I don’t need anything from my fellow members, but I want to be more aware of what’s happening in my town. And, most of the people I work with on a daily or weekly basis are in the IT industry. Not a single member of my Toastmasters club is an IT person. It gives me a great opportunity to talk to people in other industries.

So, here’s a link to the YouTube video of my recent speech. The theme was to deliver an “inspiring” speech. I commented on Martin Luther King’s August 28, 1963 “I have a Dream” speech. (Oh, volume alert, the applause is WAY louder than the rest of it. You should adjust your volume accordingly.)

Here’s the text.

Rodney Bliss is the father of 13 children, seven of them are Black, three are white and three are Asian. In his third speech, “From Dream to Reality” he will spend 5-7 minutes attempting to inspire us via references to a famous speech and explain specifically what that speech means for his own family. Please help me welcome, Rodney Bliss.

From Dream to Reality
(April 16, 2013 – Rodney M Bliss)

I want to take you back to August 28, 1963. It was a brutally hot summer that year. A summer that seethed not just with the heat of high temperatures, but high tensions. A summer wracked not just with conflicted politics, but with conflicted people.

On this day the national mall in Washington DC is crowded to overflowing. A crowd a quarter million strong, predominately Black, have come to Washington today. Come to hear a speech that will define not just a movement, but a generation.

Come with me for a few minutes to revisit that pivotal day and the remarkable speech that forever defines it.

A young Black preacher steps to the microphone,

“I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation. “

He speaks for nearly 20 minutes and I have only 5 to 7. And my poor efforts pale next to his soaring oratory. He shares both his condemning view of our past and his prophetic hopeful vision for our future.

His voice spans the nation, telling us to

“Let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire.”

“Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York.”

“Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.”

“Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado”

“Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California. Not only that, but let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia and Lookout Mountain of Tennessee.”

He tells us

“the Negro will never be satisfied, as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and the Negro in New York believe he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

He has no way of knowing about a young Black boy growing up in Honolulu, Hawaii. A little boy who had just celebrated his 2nd birthday. The son of a white mother and a Black father. A boy who would someday not only gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities, but would gain lodging to a house that while less than a mile from the spot where he stood, must have felt as inaccessible to that preacher as the surface of the moon.

Rather than walk the streets of slums, this boy will tread the halls of power. Rather than question for what to vote, he will be the one for whom they vote.

For over 150 years the Blacks had waited for the nation to honor the promissory note that all men are created equal. But less than 50 years later, the first Black president would stand on the shoulders of these giants to reach the heights of achievement. Dream indeed.

You are no doubt familiar with the most famous lines from the speech that day,

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.”

Great as this sentiment is, it’s the next paragraph that makes this speech particularly personal, poignant and inspirational for me.

“I have a dream that one day the state of Alabama, whose governor’s lips are presently dripping with the words of interposition and nullification, will be transformed into a situation where little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls and walk together as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today.”

Each night as I look at the faces of my children gathered around our dinner table, or kneeling with their heads bowed to pray, I’m grateful that my little Black boys and black girls can join hands with my little white boy and white girls, as well as little Asian boys and Asian girl and walk together as sisters and brothers. Dream indeed.

We still have a long way to go as a nation to recognize and realize Dr. King’s dream. But for me and my family, his dream has become my reality.

Thank you

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