Students Reflect on King’s Words in ‘Dream’ Speech

“His face is filled with hurt, yet his voice remains solid and strong. His words pierce your soul and send chills up your spine like eating ice cream on a frigid January day.”

That’s how one William Woods University student describes her reaction to Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

Jerrica Wilks of Dallas, Texas, was one of three William Woods students who won $25 each by reflecting on the speech following a celebration of King’s life at WWU in January.

Wilks, Kelsey Allen of Farber, Mo., and Erica Dyer of Odessa, Mo., were announced as winners Feb. 1 by the Office of Multicultural Affairs, which sponsored the essay contest.
The papers were judged by Brenda Popp, assistant professor of business, and Marla Broetz, assistant professor of interpreter training.

As part of the Martin Luther King celebration, WWU students were asked to write a paper about how they felt about King’s famous speech and the effect it has had on society.

Wilks, a freshman American Sign Language interpreting major, said King’s dream for racial equality along with his determination to make that dream a reality has played a great role in making her the person she is today.

“He refused to be treated like a second-class citizen and because of that, I am able to say with belief, ‘The Sky is the Limit!’”

Allen, a sophomore business administration major, concentrated on the King celebration held on the WWU campus. She described how the speaker, Fulton’s NAACP President Jack McBride, made an impression on her.

“Mr. McBride is a very courageous man to be able to stand and discuss such a difficult and frustrating time in his life. . .I have never been exposed to such a personal encounter of the days of segregation. It almost brought tears to my eyes and gave me chills to listen to the words.”

Allen expressed admiration for King, too, and said he was “a very brave man, and I hope he will never be forgotten.”

Dyer, a junior communications major, titled her essay “Dream or Reality?” She emphasized that society has come a long way since 1963 when King gave his speech, but she feels there is still much to accomplish.

She said she does not believe King would be satisfied with the country’s progress since the ’60s “with the Confederate flag flying and people’s adamant disapproval of interracial dating.”

In her essay Dyer asked, “When you see someone of a different race, ethnicity, sexual preference, religion—are you judging them by the content of their character? I am afraid not. So, while our society could quote Dr. King’s words as quickly and second nature as the words of the Pledge of Allegiance—can we live them?”