More than a Dream

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Darryl Brice highlights lesser-known aspects of Dr. King’s legacy

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Darryl Brice appreciates this photo of Dr. King because it looks as if Dr. King is pointing to the viewers and asking them what they are going to do to promote justice.

Darryl Brice appreciates this photo of Dr. King because it looks as if Dr. King is pointing to the viewers and asking them what they are going to do to promote justice.

“If you look at that ‘I Have a Dream’ speech that everyone references … look at the front part,” said Darryl Brice, Ph.D., as he gave Clark College’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day keynote speech on January 22. “Everyone talks about the dream, but there was a nightmare part where he talked about the reality of what was going on at the time.”

Brice, an instructor of sociology and diversity and globalism studies at Highline Community College, said the more radical elements of King’s legacy had been “co-opted or omitted” in favor of a softer, less challenging image of the civil rights leader as a dreamer. “You don’t get arrested over 30 times for having a dream,” said Brice.

Brice detailed aspects of King’s politics that he said are often omitted: his opposition to the Vietnam War, his anti-poverty activism, his criticism of income and wealth disparities between African Americans and white Americans, and his harsh criticism of well-meaning white liberals who did not recognize their own internal racism. He also pointed out that in his day, King was considered so dangerous that the FBI put him on its COINTELPRO watch list.

Brice said that “Dr. King’s dream was never attained.” He presented charts showing that great disparities remain in the wealth and incomes of African Americans and white Americans. He urged audience members to “have the same courage” King showed to fight against injustice. When asked what college students in particular could do, he answered, “Hold us accountable—that’s what college students have always done.”

The event, presented by Clark’s MLK Planning Committee and sponsored by the Office of Equity and Diversity and the Service-Learning and Volunteer Program, was part of the college’s official celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

A native of Baltimore, Md., Brice attended Frostburg State University, where he received his bachelor’s degree in political science and justice studies. He received his master’s and doctoral degrees in sociology from Loyola University Chicago. He has taught at Highline since 2003. In 2008, he was recognized as Faculty Member of the Year. In 2007, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints honored him with the Teachers Assisting in Discovery award. Two years later, he was the recipient of the National Institute for Staff and Development Excellence Award. Additionally, Brice has appeared in Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers.

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