I Too Have a Dream
By Randy Barth
On Martin Luther King, Jr Day, not to mention the second inauguration of Barack Obama as president of the United States of America, whether you agree or disagree with the policies and politics of this particular President, we can’t help but reflect on our own hopes and dreams for our nation’s future. I believe that education is the civil rights issue of our day. I believe that if Dr. King were alive today, this is where his focus would be. In our generation, the work of improving educational outcomes for our children and youth falls to all of us. And, the work starts right here in our own communities.
On June 22, 2007 more than 1,000 THINK Together staff gathered on Shalimar Drive to celebrate the greatest expansion in the history of out-of-school education by a single organization. In the previous six months, THINK Together had expanded from 25 extended learning program sites in Orange County to 184 program sites throughout Southern California. We had just hired more than 1,000 people off of a previous employee base of less than 100.
With this rapid expansion, we were concerned about maintaining our culture, which was a key part of THINK Together’s success. We wanted to talk to our new colleagues about who we are, what we believe, where we came from and where we are headed. The Shalimar Learning and Teen Center is symbolic to our organization. It is to THINK Together what David and Lucile Packard’s garage is to Hewlett Packard and Silicon Valley, the place where it all started.
I’m thrilled to say that we have been able to maintain our great culture and our people and our culture remains our greatest assets. Since June 2007, THINK Together has grown another 250%, despite a devastating economic recession and the fundamental restructuring of the economy on the back end of that recession. What that translates to is now more than 100,000 students who are receiving the support they need to be successful in life.
Below is an excerpt from the speech that I gave to that gathering of THINK Together staff. It echoes Dr. King’s great speech and connects his dreams with our own. Please take a moment to read and reflect on it. If you find it of value, please share it with others in your circle of influence. Dream on!
June 22, 2007
THINKing Back, Looking Forward event
Excerpt from Randy Barth’s speech
“On Aug. 28, 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave a speech in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. that has become known as the ‘I Have a Dream Speech.’ It is one of the greatest speeches in American history.
In 1963, civil rights was one of the great issues before American society. Today many people, myself included, consider the inequities in educational outcomes between the have’s and have-not’s as the ‘new’ civil rights struggle.
While I’m no Martin Luther King, Jr; I too have a dream and it was born right here on Shalimar Drive in 1994. Like Dr. King’s dream, my dream is deeply rooted in the American Dream.
I have a dream that all people: old and young, rich and poor, churched and un-churched, liberal and conservative, Anglo and Hispanic, Asian and African-American, Native American and all others, will come together and work to lift up our young people so that they can reach their full potential.
I have a dream that in the process of this journey, that we ourselves will discover new and better ways to work together across these artificial barriers to help create a more civil society.
I have a dream that we can use the vast amount of time that young people are out of school more productively so that poor children, and children of color, can achieve academically at the same levels as their white and Asian brothers and sisters.
I have a dream that THINK Together will be a catalyst for change throughout California so that my two little girls will grow up in a community where the achievement gap has been closed and where all young men and women are ready to compete in a global economy.
I have a dream that THINK Together will one day be a great organization where people will chose to spend their entire careers working with the best and brightest mission-driven people in each of our communities to reach our noble ends.
I have a dream that our activities and attitudes, as givers and receivers of gifts, will roll across our great State of California and even one day across our great nation and contribute to us all rising up and reaching the full potential embodied in the American Dream.
I have a dream that all of you here today will continue to join me on this journey, to work closely together and call out the best in each other. If we do this, we will become a force for good in this world that, I believe, God will continue to bless as I believe He has blessed our work to date.
We have only just begun. Thank you for all that you have done!”SHARE