His dream really is for all of us of every color

Published 3:34 pm Wednesday, January 18, 2006

By Staff
Another holiday. A day when the post office closes and most banks. But is or should Martin Luther King Day be much more for people of all races?
For the past five years I have gone to hear speakers in Cassopolis talk about what King's dream meant to them.
The Cassopolis community probably more than any other in this area has struggled with diversity and been the most successful.
There more than any other places I have gone to cover events, meetings and stories, have I felt an equality and a sincere belief all are working for the community - together - black and white.
When I first came to this area 26 years ago, I was completely turned off by a real estate person in South Bend, Ind. who was bragging “there were no blacks in the schools” where the house was located I was looking at purchasing.
I didn't want my children to grow up in a white world, protected by invisible barriers.
Instead of his hoped for sale, I refused to buy from him and looked further into Michigan for a place to raise my children.
My father taught me the color of one's skin, or accent, or whether their hair was purple or green, shouldn't really matter.
This was a basic principle I believed and wished to carry down.
I believe I was successful and I never questioned my children's friends for any of those reasons. If I thought they were wild or on drugs, that would have been a different story.
Monday, listening to the speakers at the Cass District Library saying why they are reshaping Kings' dream, it was obvious their backgrounds too, from childhood to adulthood had fashioned their ideas and resolve to teach others and give back to their community.
Being refused to be served at a restaurant, or told to go around back to the hole in the side, like Walter Malone. Not being able to take a drink of water from a water cooler.
Having the police turn a water hose on a group of students, like Michelle Andrews.
These things happened to people my age - not that very long ago.
I too remember when the civil rights workers disappeared, but I don't remember racing to my television every night to see if they had been found, like Dan Lee.
These signs that said “No coloreds,” and actions in the 50s and 60s made these speakers the people they have become. They took King's dream and worked for change.
The Rev. J.D. Newton became the first African American to graduate from Bethel College.
Vince Hawkins went on to graduate from the University of Notre Dame and then get a masters from Indiana University.
Today, they are working toward making their community better, a place where their children will want to return after schooling and raise their grandchildren.
They are proud of the fact Greg Weatherspoon returned to his hometown of Cassopolis to become the first black superintendent of schools. More black teachers are needed and role models in other professions.
Someone said Cassopolis had a chance of becoming a model for the state and maybe even the nation, by constantly reshaping King's dream.