"I Have A Dream" Speech Inspires Lansing Woman

By: Alyssa Fenske Email
By: Alyssa Fenske Email

LANSING (WILX)-- People were celebrating the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream," speech all over the country. In mid-Michigan, it was no exception.

Lansing native, Sharon Greer, remembers watching the speech when she was a little girl.

"We were off school. We got to sit at home, and watch it on those little black and white t.v.'s we had," described Greer.

She says she knew then it was a day to remember.

"Just seeing that many black people in one spot and no cops. There were no arrests, they were all being peaceful. You just noticed people as far as you could see on that camera. It was just amazing to see," said Greer.

For her and many others, it was more than just a speech about equality in a dangerous time of segregation.

"Things were different, we couldn't go some places. I remember my mother would take me downtown to a restaurant every Saturday to have toast and milk. I didn't really understand then that we were breaking color barriers," said Greer.

(You can watch the speech by clicking on the story link at the bottom of the page.)

Paulette Granberry Russell, MSU Diversity Advisor, wasn't as lucky to be able to watch the speech 50 years ago. But she says the lessons from it were taught to her by her Grandmother.

"The speech resonates with me particularly because I have two children. I want my children to be acknowledged not for the color of their skin, but for the content of their character," said Granberry Russell.

For both Greer and Granberry Russell, the speech has made a bigger impact than anyone could have ever imagined.

"I wouldn't have a business if he didn't do what he did, and hadn't said what he said. That's why I always celebrate today by working," said Greer.

Today there are small details that can be found, like a Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. that remind us every day of the impact the speech had.

"That was Logan Street when I grew up. These are ways to honor him and make him remembered in everyone's lives," said Greer.

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