Don’t tell people your dreams. Show them.

Aug 28, 2013

Today, as most of you know – is the 50th Anniversary of the famous “I Have a Dream” speech delivered by American clergyman and activist Martin Luther King, Jr. on August 28, 1963, in which he called for an end to racism in the United States.

Delivered to more than 250,000 civil rights supporters from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, the speech was a defining moment of the American Civil Rights Movement.

As an unplanned stroke of amazing coincidence – I posted – as I do most every day for the past 6 years or so – a positive quote on my personal Facebook page.

It was this quote and image: Don’t tell people your dreams. Show them.

Don't tell people your dreams.  Show them.

Unexpectedly, I received this comment almost immediately from my Facebook friend JB: “Sorry, Jim, but this is extremely offensive today. Whether intended or not, it comes across to me as an attack on MLK on the 50th anniversary of the “I have a dream” speech.” And, he — and many, many others — did and have shown the dream. 

My response followed: “Hey John. As you know – I would never intend to offend anyone. I would never attack Dr. King or the ideals he stood for. Seriously. Actually – I believe MLK was speaking to this exact thing.” 

Martin Luther King Dream

Martin Luther King, Jr. delivering “I Have a Dream” at the 1963 Washington D.C. Civil Rights March.

So that exchange this morning got me thinking and I wanted to share some thoughts on this with you.

Beginning the speech with a reference to Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, which freed millions of slaves in 1863, King observed that: “one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free”. His written remarks were to be 4 minutes in length.

Toward the end of King’s delivery, noted African American gospel singer Mahalia Jackson shouted to King from the crowd, “Tell them about the dream, Martin.” King stopped delivering his prepared text and started “preaching”, punctuating his points with “I have a dream.”

In this “improvized” part of the speech which lasted several minutes and most excited the listeners and has now become the most famous, King described his dreams of freedom and equality arising from a land of slavery and hatred.

My favorite excerpt:

“I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be engulfed, every hill shall be exalted and every mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plains and the crooked places will be made straight and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith that I will go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope.

With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood.

With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to climb up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with new meaning “My country ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my father’s died, land of the Pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring!”

So, with a few inspirational words from a woman in the crowd that day in Washington, DC, Mahalia Jackson and her urging Dr. King to “Tell them about the dream,” history was changed forever.

But most importantly to my Facebook post this morning: MLK did not just tell us about his dream…He showed us. By working…by praying…by struggling…by climbing…by DOING… That’s what I meant today by: “Don’t tell people your dreams. Show them.”

Other take-aways:  When you have something to say – shout it from the mountain tops. Don’t be afraid to deviate from the script.  Don’t be timid and hide your dreams.  And don’t be afraid to be a person of character and stand behind your convictions.

My hope with this blog post is that you will remind yourself each day – to not just talk about your dreams, your goals, your aspirations…but go out and do something about it.  


Contact: Jim Matuga
InnerAction Media
Twitter: @jmatuga

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About Jim Matuga: Jim Matuga is a 33 year resident of Morgantown, WV. He graduated from West Virginia University with a BS in Advertising from the Perley Issac Reed School of Journalism in 1988. He has extensive experience in leadership positions with media companies in newspaper (The Dominon Post), television (WBOY – 12NEWS), cable (Rutter Media), direct mail (VALPAK), radio and Internet. Jim is 48 years old and is active in board positions with the Morgantown Area Chamber of Commerce, PACE Enterprises, Rotary Club of Morgantown, West Virginia BASS Federation and the West Virginia Miracle League.

About InnerAction Media: Headquartered in Morgantown, W.Va., InnerAction Media (IAM) is a multi-service brand strategy, advertising and inbound marketing firm with expertise in providing marketing communications for business-to-business and business-to-consumer industries. The company was founded in 2011 by Jim Matuga and Michael Arbogast.

The agency’s core competencies encompass:

Strategic Marketing | Brand Strategy | HubSpot Inbound Marketing | Web Site Development | HD Video Production | Social Media Management | Google AdWords Marketing | Original Music Composition (Jingles)

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