Believing, Dreaming, and Trusting
Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith.
On a hot summer day in August of 1963, I learned about the power of an idea whose time had come, and the commitment needed to assure its fruition. I watched as my father, Dumas senior, sat beside a black-and-white television set moving in emotion from groans, to tears, to shouts. It was one of the few times I have seen my father cry. He was enthralled as he was taken to transcendent heights listening to a young prophetic preacher name Martin Luther King, Jr. This inspiration came from the famous “I Have a Dream” speech.
During that eventful summer, when I at the age of twelve inquired about the meaning of the event, the message that was rooted deep in my soul was, if you have a dream for your life, you cannot give up on it, and if you persevere, it will become a reality. My father exhorted, “If justice is to be won in America, we as a people must work tirelessly to ensure a future for us and our children with equal opportunities for all.”
I have since learned that Dr. King was driven by an unflinching faith in God and the goodwill of humanity. Though his road was rough and every imaginable obstacle was placed in his path, he never abandoned
his dream. He was burdened at times by the resistance of racists and was discouraged by the slow pace of justice, yet he never gave up on the vision of the beloved community.
When my eleven-year-old son, Dumas III, sought for answers regarding the Million Man March, which displayed unity, peace, and male responsibility, I was ready to teach a lesson. I remember conveying to him the awesome thought of pursuing his dreams and believing in himself and his heritage, regardless of public opinion. I wanted him to understand that we have come too far to give up now.
Of course, I wanted him to be encouraged in his dreams by faith in “God who can make a way out of no way.” This same faith has brought me through one challenge after another, one crisis after another, and one dream fulfilled after another. I am confident it will take him through also, so that one day he can say to his son or daughter, “You can do it!”
On this day: I will affirm my dreams, commit myself to fulfilling them, and never cease trusting God for the strength and power to continue the struggle.
– Dumas Alexander Harshaw, Jr.
From One Brother to Another: Voice of African American Men, editors, William J. Key & Robert Johnson-Smith II, Judson Press, Valley Forge PA, 1996.