Fifty years ago today, Martin Luther King, Jr. stood in front of millions of people at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC, and spoke those famous words (which he apparently ad libbed): “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”
Fifty years later, I am sitting in the press box at Cal, Sr.'s Yard looking out on 150 plus kids of all colors from all across the country. And I am struck by how much alike they are—and not because they're all wearing their baseball uniforms with the number 7 (Cal, Sr.'s number) on the back.
If this appears to contradict one of the key tenets of “The Ripken Way”—celebrate the individual—it doesn't. Let me explain why.
We know better now than to look at another human being and think, based on the color of his or her skin, that we can know that person's thoughts, feeling, or capabilities. While each of our kids has their own story, many come from similar circumstances. Many share the same hopes and dreams.
Today, we are fortunate to stand on the shoulders of giants—of ordinary citizens (not very different from you or me) who shared King's dream. Because of their struggles, sacrifices, leadership, and extreme courage, we are able to celebrate the individual.
That means that each of the kids wearing number 7 out on the field today is capable of doing great things. Every one of them is more than a statistic. Every one of them is capable of making smart choices and choosing their own paths into a healthy adulthood.
That is our dream for the kids we reach. We have a dream that every child understands that they have the power to choose their futures. That where they come from and what has happened is a part of them, but it does not define them nor what they are capable of achieving.
What do you dream of for future generations?