Monday, January 24, 2011


Recently, I attended a reading of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s I Have a Dream speech. The 50 people in attendance were fairly evenly divided between males and female, and I noticed at least six different ethnic backgrounds in attendance.

At first the group was quiet and attentitive, with almost no movement as they listened. Then I started noticing eyes closing and faces slightly raising to the heavens, others were nodding in agreement, some were smiling, and a few held their hand to their heart.

It's a moving speech, as I'm sure you already know, and the person doing the reading did great justice to the material. Everyone in the room was definitely impacted by Dr. King's thought provoking words.

Following the reading, the group was asked to share what their dreams are. The question was met by silence with no one wanting to respond first, but after a long minute, a hand raised, then another, and another. Their answers spoke volumes.

I dream of....

...Everyone in the world being treated fairly.

...Jobs for everybody

..Enough food so no one goes to bed hungry

...Being able to walk on the sidewalk without being afraid

...Going to college

I dream of...

...All the wars ending and people shaking hands and being friends

...Being a teacher.... A policeman ....A doctor...

...No more sick people without health insurance

I dream of...

...Living in a real house

...Being important enough to matter and be heard even though my English is not good

...A world with no more violence

...Having enough money to pay bills and take care of our family

....Life where it doesn't matter where you came from or what you look like

I dream of...

...Being friends with all types of people

...Not ever hearing gun shots again

...Having art teachers in schools

...Living in a safe place

And one young man in the audience-- Very handsome and in a wheelchair, because he only had one leg, said he dreamed of playing American football someday.

I was impressed that every single person in the room spoke openly and honestly about their dreams-- Which were things that clearly hit close to home for them.

The above answers did not come from adults in the room, rather they were all spoken from the hearts of 4th and 5th grade students attending an inner city public elementary school in a very rough Los Angeles neighborhood.


They broke my heart. And they inspired me.

Welcome to - Joanna Jenkins
Photo Credit: © V. Yakobchuk -


  1. We can sure learn from them. A wonderful post.
    A friend of mine teaches at an inner school in the city and the things that go on in his and his student's daily life breaks my heart. Something as simple of having a pencil.

  2. Out of the mouths of babes, right, Joanna? These dreams should be a given for these children, in my opinion but, sadly, who knows if they will see fruition. Let's just pray they do.

  3. How absolutely amazing. Inspirational indeed.

  4. Oh my that is such a beautiful post - thank you.

  5. Such profound and heart-warming dreams!! And they felt comfortable enough to share them...out loud!! Very cool!

  6. I was swept away with the responses and then you really stopped me cold when you said they were elementary school kids!

    That speech always makes me cry because he MADE us truly listen and feel.

    What a human being he was!

  7. Children are just young adults. They either have hearts to care about others or not. I have never believed that children are just being children if they are selfish and self centered. Children who live in shelters or on the street understand how important it is to all work together for good for all. Children who work the streets have no childhood yet they matter too. What a blessing it was for you to be there at that exact time listening to a wonderful speech being verbalized again as young people drink in the truth and the dream that is still so relevant today.

  8. Wow, wise children for sure, I did not expect that they were not adults.
    It is a wonderful speech from a wonderful man. great post Joanna. hugs.

  9. Such wisdom from such young people. Very inspiring. Thanks for sharing!

  10. Inspired and touched and saddened but hopeful that someday all their dreams come true! Great post JJ!

  11. Wow. I never saw that coming, that it was children who said those things.

  12. Who would have thought! The answers are all the more shocking knowing they came from kids. Great post!
    I just finished reading "The help", so this is very vivid in my mind.

  13. Broke my heart, then put it back together again!

  14. Hello Joanna,

    Funny how we dream only when we are younger. Interesting workshop.

  15. Very powerful, Joanna. Not just that it came from kids, but the way you presented their hopes and dreams. Knowing whose dreams these are, the one that really got me is never having to hear gunshots again.

    I have never heard them and pray I never do, but to realize there are children who hear them every day, it breaks my heart. Who don't have a home, or food to eat. My heart aches for them.

  16. not only is the speech moving..but hearing the dreams of these little gives me hope...smiles.

  17. Wow! This cuts to my heart..these coming from prayers are for all of their dreams to come true. Hope. XX

  18. Thanks for putting the important things into perspective for me...too many times I'm guilty of dreaming for selfish purposes.

  19. Those are amazing answers. Incredible that they come from kids. It's sad that some of those answers have to be a dream.

  20. the gunshot one got me.

    and children amaze me. I want to grow up to be like them .

  21. Children. Why can't we maintain that level of optimism and faith as adults?

  22. Children have some pretty profound things to say if we only will listen. Thanks for sharing that Joanna!!

  23. My eyes started to water as I read this...and to find in the end that it was a room full of kids...heart warming. They are pretty amazing...they are our future.
    Thanks,Joanna for posting this.

  24. Wow--what a beautiful and moving post...

  25. great post that makes one think about life but I was hoping to read what one of your dreams is.

  26. YOUR writing is also very inspiring, a true story teller. and from school kids.... a twist within your writing. Thank you for sharing!

  27. This is a great post. It needs to be nominated for an award.

  28. I would have loved to hace heard that speech performed. How moving. How touching were the responses. I was very moved.

  29. Yes, kids will always amaze me!!! Their responses are always so open and honest.

    Thanks for the great read!

    God bless and have a glorious day sweetie.

  30. The children of the world keep us on our toes! Love that you shared this with us!

  31. Kids never fail to inspire. Thanks for attending and reporting.

  32. I was bowled over that these dreams came from children -- not that I don't doubt the profundity of youth -- and my dream is that this new generation can make realities out of these dreams. We recently had a long conversation with our 16 year old, who was very upset by the income disparity and the poverty in the country. She was so upset she cried at the injustice, and it reminded me of my 16 year old self and how I railed against the same things.

    I dream...that one day...these dreams can come true. Thank you for this wonderful post.

  33. Oh those precious children... heartbreaking what they must endure for being so young.

    I will never again take a walk on the sidewalks of Anchorage without thinking of their fright on their scary streets... :(

    I dream that all their dreams come true..... xoxo

  34. Kids are better at speaking from their hearts than adults are.

  35. Every dream begins with a dreamer, every dreamer enjoy his lifestyle and is happy with his choices. Thanks to remember us how important is to follow our dreams.

  36. *Applause*

    Thank you for your dear friendship here in the blog-world.
    Please stop by today to share a special moment with me if you have the time. Warmly, c-
    Comfort Spiral


  37. Poor kids...

    My boy Griffin only dreams of one thing... he's waiting for hand-me-down clothes from his Uncle Steve to send in the mail. Griffin adores his Uncle Steve! I have lots of trouble as he has only one black singlet that was his Uncle Steve's, and he wears it until it can stand up by itself! Bring on the post!

  38. Oh my goodness. You totally caught me off guard with this one. I was already misty-eyed reading through everyone's dreams, but then you dropped the bomb at the end. Wow. What a powerful post, this one.

  39. Wonderful post Joanna. Thank you!

  40. Whoa. Kids are awesome. Really heartbreaking and inspiring post Joanna.

  41. What a great post! I was awed by the dreams then floored to find out they were the dreams of our youth. Awesome! I agree with Mari, it is sad that some of those answers have to be a dream.

    ~ Tracy

  42. Life in the big city eh Joanna...After the shooting in Gardena and the police killings here in Long Beach, its hard sometimes to “have a dream”. But of course I am
    one of the fortunate ones with many advantages, but my heart breaks for these kids, where do they find peace and serenity?

  43. I pray all their dreams come true. God bless them.
    ♥ Joy

  44. Oh.
    I love this so much.
    Tears falling. Thankful.
    I believe our world is changing when I read things like this.

  45. I can believe that this is what Dr. King had in mind....lovely....smiles.

  46. This is truly inspirational and beautiful! Thank you for sharing.

  47. Kids know more than us adults do at times. If only their dreams came true.

    Ev'Yan's name came from yours truly. I love names and when I found out that I was having a girl, I set out to find the perfect name. That one fit her perfectly. So, no history other than the fact that her mom wanted her to have a special name.

  48. You made a moving story more powerful and emotional with the way you told the story. Really made me think and go back and reread their dreams after you said they were children. I hope they reach their dreams.

  49. Such a tenderly written and moving post, dear jj. Makes me feel quite ashamed of everything I take so for granted.

  50. Children have an innate wisdom and clarity of vision that puts many adults to shame.

    Good for you for reminding us.

  51. All the things every good person longs for and perhaps we should all be more like children. I think that is what Jesus meant when he said said something similar. But alas I doubt whether mankind will ever manage to bring this to pass in this life ..... under these present conditions with all the evil permeating throughout the world.
    Great post Joanna.

  52. Now I have to redo my mascara...

    I was already tearing up when I read about the young man in the wheelchair...then to learn he was just a child...

    GREAT post! thank you.

  53. It is amazing the things that are important are so frequently forgotten by adults who are supposed to be wise but don't "have the time" to think anymore - it's the kids who get it and get it well. Perfectly moving.

  54. It is amazing the things that are important are so frequently forgotten by adults who are supposed to be wise but don't "have the time" to think anymore - it's the kids who get it and get it well. Perfectly moving.

  55. Beautiful!!!!!!
    I would love to attend something like this. And then I would love to do something to make their dreams come true...

  56. Inspirational indeed. Hope you are well JJ.

  57. i share their dreams...and because dreams live on through the newer generations, i have hope that one day our dreams will be realised.

    you are amazing!

  58. This is so cool. I have the opposite problem so perhaps my husband is right and Bozeman isn't the best place for us.

    I got a fortune in a cookie that said, You will soon gain something that you have always wanted. The first thing that came to my mind was the respect of the teacher I work for. (She's not a terrible person, I just feel like sometimes I'm more under foot than I am helping her.) That was followed by the respect of my peers. The other aides I work with who I look up to and admire.

    My son said, A new Wii. Sigh, no. I said it's not something material. Not everything has to be about having more things.

    So I'm wondering if we shouldn't blast out of here. That is the one down side to this place. There is a lot of money especially at our school, and I'm not sure the parents realize that their kids are not always getting the right message. These aren't bad parents. They volunteer at the school. They probably have the same dreams mentioned above. Their kids are in Boy Scouts. They expect their children to follow the rules and do well in school. There's a work ethic being taught. But like us, they have worked very hard to give their children a lot of stuff, and I'm not sure that it's doing our kids any great service. It's also at times like those that I think it wouldn't hurt Hawk to go to church, but that's another story.

  59. Beautiful post, JJ. You touched my heart and made me think about what i would say if I were asked that question too. Thank you.

  60. you did it again. i´ve tears in my eyes. thanks you for this...

  61. This was so beautiful Joanna. I hope all their dreams come true.

  62. Gorgeous post.
    Reminds me of
    the time one of
    our former senators
    was in a local
    classroom and asked
    what the kids had
    eaten for breakfast.
    One little boy said
    he hadn't had breakfast
    that day, and when
    queried as to why,
    responded that "It
    wasn't my turn."
    I've never forgotten
    that. It is good
    to open our hearts,
    listen and imagine
    ourselves in another's
    xx Suzanne

  63. You got me on that one. I never expected the ending you had. Thanks for sharing.

  64. they inspired me too... and you, you inspire me.

    thank you, for your warm wishes.
    i love ya bunches.


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