Poetry Challenge: Honor Martin Luther King Jr By Describing How You Dream A World



When Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his “I Have A Dream” speech 58 years ago, he changed the course of history with his aspiration.

The metaphors, political overtones and themes King employed were inspired by Langston Hughes’ poem “I Dream A World:”

I dream a world where man
No other man will scorn,
Where love will bless the earth
And peace its paths adorn
I dream a world where all
Will know sweet freedom’s way,
Where greed no longer saps the soul
Nor avarice blights our day.
A world I dream where black or white,
Whatever race you be,
Will share the bounties of the earth
And every man is free,
Where wretchedness will hang its head
And joy, like a pearl,
Attends the needs of all mankind-
Of such I dream, my world!

In the poem, there’s hope in the chaos, and it attends to the needs of all of us. There are so many parallels between “I Dream A World” and King’s speech: talk of dreams, freedom, equality.

Martin Luther King Jr. addresses the crowd at the March On Washington D.C., on Aug. 28, 1963. CREDIT: CNP/Getty Images

Martin Luther King Jr. addresses the crowd at the March On Washington D.C., on Aug. 28, 1963. CREDIT: CNP/Getty Images

So as we enter 2021, we can all draw inspiration from both King and Hughes. Morning Edition resident poet Kwame Alexander and host Rachel Martin suggest we write our way out of the unprecedented events of the past year and into a space of possibility.

Write a poem that, like Hughes did, begins with the line: “I dream a world” and describe the change you hope for.

Your poem can rhyme like Hughes’ poem, but it doesn’t have to. It just has to dream us out of tribulation.

Share your poem through the form below, then Alexander will take lines from some of your pieces and create a community crowdsourced poem. Alexander and Martin will read it on air, and NPR will publish it online, where contributors will be credited.

Here are the terms of the callout:

By providing your Submission to us, you agree that you have read, understand and accept the following terms in relation to the content and information (your “Submission”) you are providing to National Public Radio (“NPR,” “us,” or “our”):

You are submitting content pursuant to a call out by Morning Edition related to a segment with Kwame Alexander wherein he creates unique poetry based on listener submissions. You understand that you are submitting content for the purpose of having Kwame use that content to create a new poem or poems (“Poem”) with the material you submit. You must be over the age of 18 to submit material.

You will retain copyright in your Submission, but agree that NPR and/or Kwame Alexander may edit, modify, use, excerpt, publish, adapt or otherwise make derivative works from your Submission and use your Submission or derivative works in whole or in part in any media or format and/or use the Submission or Poem for journalistic and/or promotional purposes generally, and may allow others to do so. You understand that the Poem created by Kwame Alexander will be a new creative work and may be distributed through NPR’s programs (or other media), and the Poem and programs can be separately subject to copyright protection. Your Submission does not plagiarize or otherwise infringe any third party copyright, moral rights, or any other intellectual property rights or similar rights. You have not copied any part of your Submission from another source. If your Submission is selected for inclusion in the Poem, you will be acknowledged in a list of contributors on NPR’s website or otherwise receive appropriate credit, but failure to do so shall not be deemed a breach of your rights.

Your submission will be governed by our general Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. As the Privacy Policy says, we want you to be aware that there may be circumstances in which the exemptions provided under law for journalistic activities or freedom of expression may override privacy rights you might otherwise have.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit npr.org