Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights hosts Dream@50 event

By Toni Newborn, Interim Assistant Director -Complaint Investigations Division

On February 19, 2013 at the Minneapolis Convention Center, the Minneapolis Department Civil Rights (MDCR) hosted the Dream@50 Arts Contest Awards ceremony. August 28, 2013 will mark the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I Have a Dream Speech. To commemorate this historic event, Karz Productions in partnership with the King Center, National Education Association, National Art Education Association, Americans for the Arts, National Council of Teachers of English, National Council for the Social Studies, Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, United Nations Academic Impact, and YouTube created the Dream@50 Arts Contest on a national level. Several cities (Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Memphis, Detroit, Chicago, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Los Angeles, and San Francisco/Bay Area) were asked to host and participate.

Students ranging from Kindergarten to the 12th grade were invited to participate in the art contest by choosing a word or phrase from the “I Have A Dream Speech” and create artwork that was representative of that word or phrase. 

Reg Chapman of WCCO served as the emcee of the awards event. Attendees included city officials and representatives of local partners such as Council Member Don Samuels, MDCR Director Velma Korbel, Target Corporation, and the Minneapolis School District.

Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak delivered the keynote address. He spoke about how equality is so much more than striving for equal rights: it is about making communities whole. He explained that while we work hard for equality among all, so long as racism, sexism and other inequalities in our societies exist, we as individual community members cannot be whole. He echoed Martin Luther King Jr.’s idea that remedying past discrimination is not simply about erasing racism, it is about working with all races, creeds and colors to constantly challenge our values for what constitutes a better, progressive society.

The Minneapolis/St. Paul Public school systems produced some very talented young people for the art contest.  Despite the very cold weather that day, the semi-finalists attended and were recognized in front of their peers, families and teachers. All participants received art kits (donated by Janet Boris) and a certificate of recognition.

This event was a manifestation of the “dream” that Dr. King spoke so eloquently about throughout his “I Have a Dream Speech.” Community leaders from all disciplines – art, politics, dance, public and private – came together to support the vision of a man who still  resonates with our ideals and challenge to work for a better future.

“I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment, I still have a dream…”   Dr. Martin Luther King, August 28, 1963.

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