By Charlene Brown

50 Years and Still Dreaming

“I have a dream.”

These were the words uttered by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 50 years ago today during the March on Washington. In a time of gross injustice, racism, discrimination, King’s dream envisioned a different path and possibility for our country.

The black and white pictures of the March on Washington show Dr. King’s fierce proclamation and the National Mall full of people taking a stand against injustice.

What’s easy to miss in the pictures, however, is the thousands of college students present at the March. Churches and groups like the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) gathered students from colleges and universities around the country to stand in solidarity, denounce injustice and racism, and answer the call to change in the U.S. Black and yellow, red and white, students dreamt and envisioned a different way forward that day.

While they were young and inexperienced, their voices mattered. They were not just the future leaders of America; they were present leaders.

This should be encouraging, and a reminder that the college campus is a place for innovation and mission.

Thank God we have come a long way since 1963—but the truth is that, 50 years later, we still have far to go. So I say to you:

You don’t have to wait until you’ve graduated to speak against violence on campus and in the world.

You don’t have to wait until you’ve secured a job to speak out against racism.

You don’t have to wait until you’re old and gray to respond to injustice.

Many of our campuses are wrought with racial incidents, sexual violence, and dehumanizing hate speech against others. It can be easy to see and hear of these and fail to respond or react.

But God is still using college students to change the campus and the world too.

  • Travis and his small group meet and talk with university employees and the administration. They believe that all employees should be paid not just minimum wage but a living wage.
  • After being the victim of hate speech, Brent has decided to respond with Christ’s love for his aggressor. He, along with many other InterVarsity students, is calling the campus to love because Christ first loved us.
  • Ashley is a biomedical engineering major who is using her gifts and passion to help those with physical disabilities by learning to design and build prosthetics. Her work is not simply about making money; it’s about using her love for math and the sciences to help improve the quality of life for those with physical disabilities.
  • And then there’s Amber, who feels called to mentor elementary-age girls of color in the city. Her desire is for her mentees to see a woman of color pursuing a college education and loving Jesus. Amber’s influence has given these girls new vision for their lives.

We’re all called, like King, to dream and pray—with our minds, our voices, and our feet.

I have no doubt that this generation of students has dreams of what the Lord can do. I can’t wait to see those dreams unfold. I long to see a generation that casts down fear to live fully into who the Lord is calling them to be and what he’s calling them to do.

Today—and tomorrow, and every day after that—rise to the Lord’s call to be world changers.

Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.” (1 Timothy 4:12)

What are your dreams for your campus? Leave us a comment!

Read why ethnic reconciliation and justice are part of InterVarsity’s core values.

Or check out these resources from InterVarsity Press:

Remembering Birmingham: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Letter to America—50 Years Later

Welcoming Justice: God’s Movement Toward Beloved Community

Gracism: The Art of Inclusion

Charlene Brown serves as the National Director of  InterVarsity’s  Black Campus Ministry. She is an unapologetic nineties music aficionado and Twitter enthusiast (

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