Martin Luther King Jr had a dream, but he also showed us how to realise ours

The US civil rights icon did not just dream of a better world, he also described a blueprint for how to achieve it

Shanjida Nowshin Chowdhury
Published : 15 Jan 2023, 10:30 AM
Updated : 15 Jan 2023, 10:30 AM

Jan 15 is the official birthday of American Baptist minister and activist Martin Luther King Jr, one of the most prominent leaders in the US civil rights movement.

When you hear the name Martin Luther King Jr, you think of his infamous speech “I Have a Dream”. These four words have catapulted King to an icon that represents not only the need for peace and racial equality, but also a burning desire to change the world for the better. Like King, most of us also grow up harbouring a dream in our hearts - a wrong we would like to right, a social injustice we would like to rectify.

But is dreaming enough? What can we do to turn these dreams into a reality? Lucky for us, Martin Luther King Jr has an answer for this as well. An answer that can only be unveiled by asking another question.   

On Oct 26, 1967, Martin Luther King Jr graced the stage of Philadelphia’s Barratt Junior High School to deliver his speech “What Is Your Life’s Blueprint?”. In a time when racial segregation was at an all-time high, King’s speech served as a vital pillar that helped African American people stand tall and believe in their right to equal opportunity and respect. Though the world has greatly changed since the 60s, the three components to creating a blueprint for your life that King described are as relevant as ever to young people across the world who are unsure of what the future holds.

The first and most important component to your life’s blueprint, according to King, is “a deep belief in your own dignity, your own worth, and your own somebodiness”. To achieve greatness, it is essential that you believe that you are worthy and destined for great things. In a time like ours when numbers and social media are deeply ingrained into our existence, it is easy to feel insignificant and like you don’t matter.

King’s speech serves as a reminder that every life has a purpose and to achieve your dreams it is important to protect your self-worth from external sources that try to bring it down. Whether it be the colour of your skin, your gender, or your age, King urges us to not just accept ourselves but to stand proud in the face of social inequalities that would have us question our own worth.

Next, in your life’s blueprint, King states that you must possess a “determination to achieve excellence in your various fields of endeavour”. Just as you must respect yourself, you must also respect the work you do. The best way to show respect to your work? Do it well. With sincerity and dedication.

Young people in Bangladesh often know how real the issue of job-shaming is. However, according to King, what matters isn’t what you do, but how you do it. As long as you are the best at what you do, people will have no option but to take notice.

King does note how social inequalities can impact the things people are able to achieve. Regardless, he says that it is necessary to not allow these things to hold us back and to let our skills speak for themselves, not just in our small circles, but on the world’s stage. So, do not set out to just be the best of your kind, but the best of all time.

Lastly, King’s third essential component is “commitment to the eternal principles of beauty, love, and justice”. Most of us at, one point or another, have heard the phrase “Money doesn’t buy happiness”. Confidence and skills can bring a person great monetary success. However, true self-fulfillment can only come through knowing that you’re making a real impact on the world.

According to King, your life’s blueprint will remain incomplete if you do not have a desire to leave the world a better place than how you found it. To dream is to imagine a future that is better than the present. To make that dream a reality, it is necessary that you play your part in fighting social injustices so that you can build a future where your dream can thrive.

Martin Luther King Jr dedicated his life’s blueprint to his dream that one day we will live in a peaceful world where men and women of every colour can treat each other as equals. Though he left too soon for his dream to become a reality, we can still honor his vigour for world peace and justice by creating our own blueprints that will strive for the betterment of not just ourselves, but the world we live in.

This article was written for Stripe, bdnews24.com's special publication with a focus on culture and society from a youth perspective. 

Toufique Imrose Khalidi
Editor-in-Chief and Publisher