Ray's message: Let your inner light shine


Actress and author gives keynote at MLK observance.

Actress and author gives keynote at MLK observance.



You were born to shine.

That was the message Garden City Community College students, faculty, staff and community members heard Monday at the Martin Luther King, Jr., holiday observance held in the GCCC gymnasium.

"I want everyone to repeat with me, 'I am born to shine,'" keynote speaker Angela Ray said.

Ray, an award-winning speaker, actress and author, gave a speech, "Teamwork makes the Dream Work," during the observance, where students, faculty, staff and community members celebrated King's life and his message.

Ray spoke about the importance of having a team when pursuing one's goals and dreams, using King's "I have a Dream" speech as an example.

"The 'I have a Dream' speech almost didn't happen that day. Martin Luther King was preparing for the speech that he was going to give that day, and many of his advisers were giving him some input and one adviser, in particular, Mr. Wyatt Walker, advised him against using 'I have a dream,' because he said it was kind of cliché and trite," Ray said. "If you're paying attention and you're familiar with the speech, you'll notice that, as the speech starts, you don't hear anything about, 'I have a dream.' That's because Dr. King took Mr. Wyatt's advice and decided he wasn't going to use that particular phrase at all. It wasn't until he was in the middle of his speech that he heard a voice from the middle of the audience that said, 'Tell them about the dream, Martin.'"

Ray said the voice was that of gospel singer Mahalia Jackson.

"And with that, Dr. King went into the 'I have a Dream' speech," Ray said. "Thankfully, Miss Mahalia Jackson was on Dr. King's team."

Ray told students that to fulfill their dreams, they should be thinking about who they want on their team now, while they are in college.

"Here, Garden City Community College students, is where your dream can begin. Here, while you are earning your education, is where you can start to assemble your team," she said, adding that both fellow students and instructors may prove to be invaluable resources down the road.

After quoting King as saying, '"Not everybody can be famous but everybody can be great, because greatness is determined by service," Ray gave everyone a challenge.

"So everybody in this room, as you follow your dream, you can be great, and I would just challenge you, as you pursue this greatness, to be bold, brilliant and to be beautiful, and to let the light that shines in you illuminate for all people to see," she said.

During the observance, GCCC students Allegria Chisom, John Bell, Talan Whitaker and Sandra Davis took turns reciting King's famous speech. Prior to that, SGA President Brevan Woydziak said that in pondering America's tumultuous civil rights history, he realized that inequality and racism were born out of what was considered socially acceptable at the time. So he offered his own challenge.

"It's almost too easy to look at the history books with a sense of puzzlement. My generation — those of you who are in here who are my age — we didn't grow up in the '60s. We didn't see the fight for social equality that took place during Martin Luther King's 'I've got a Dream' speech. We live in a time now where we have an African American president, and though all of racism isn't absent, we do live in an era where things like slavery and segregation are so outlandish and so repulsive that it's hard for us to believe that an entire nation could be convinced that that was OK," Woydziak said.

But it wasn't a lack of intelligence, but rather social acceptance that led to such racist and inhumane treatment, Woydziak said.

"Last night, the truth dawned on me, the truth is our generation did not evolve to a higher state of intelligence. The truth is, the Nazis who slaughtered millions of innocent people and the slave owners of America's past — these things were not born through a lack of intelligence. These things were born through social acceptance," he said. "And it's unfortunate that our culture, myself, you, and on a global scale, that we're often hypnotized into believing that what is socially acceptable dictates what's right and what's wrong ...

Too often these days, Woydziak said, our society is "bombarded" with the wrong messages.

" ... For instance, I'm bombarded with messages that a woman's worth is based upon how she looks or that my manhood is dictated and defined by my ability to consume the opposite sex — things like that," he said. "And I don't mean to preach — I just wanted to use that example so that while you listen to this speech, you might imagine yourself in a setting where the wrong thing is what is socially acceptable and thus capture the spirit of Martin Luther King's 'I have a Dream' speech, so that with sober eyes, you can look at the social norms around you and judge whether they are right or whether they are wrong."

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