Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream lives on 50 years after death

by Jonathan Facio, Layout Editor

INDIANOLA, Iowa — The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. would have been 89 years old Monday if he were not assassinated.

He died five years after giving his famous “I Have a Dream” speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

During a speech in Smith Chapel, attended by over 100 students, faculty and community members, West Des Moines city council member Renee Hardman wondered if King’s dream had died with him.

After a performance of “Ride On King Jesus” by Erayle Amacker, Simpson President Jay Simmons gave a brief introduction, saying King “reminded us of the fundamentals of being American” and “when we look for heroes, it’s not easy to find them among today’s leadership.”

Hardman said her “life is what it is today because of his dream, life and legacy.”

Hardman said she woke up at 4 a.m. on Jan. 20, 2009, to board a packed train. On that cold day in Washington, D.C., she knew she was about to witness history.

Hardman watched the inauguration of Barack Obama, the 44th president of the United States.

“There was a moment I wondered if Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream had been realized,” she said.

Hardman was adamant about the hope in the world but said she questions every day if King’s dream is still alive.

West Des Moines city council member Renee Hardman speaks with Heidi Levine, vice president for student development, after delivering a speech in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. This year marks 50 years since King was assassinated. (Photo: Austin Hronich/The Simpsonian)

While she was running for councilwoman, a man had allegedly yelled, “A colored woman has no place running my city!”

Hardman said she went to her car and cried. However, with hardened resolve, she continued a successful campaign to win the position.

The hope, Hardman said, is in service. “It’s more than coming out on the Martin Luther King Jr. day celebration; it’s living by his principles every day,” she said.