Find the passion, live the dream

Fifty years ago, civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King challenged America to be better than it was at that time, but paid a tremendous price for his call to action.

Douglas County Treasurer John Ewing Jr., who spoke at the UNMC's Martin Luther King Jr. Day Event on Monday, reprised that challenge and asked audience members if they were "living the dream?"

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Douglas County Treasurer John Ewing speaks at Monday's Martin Luther King Jr. Day commemoration at UNMC
America was built on hope and great promise and the words of the U.S. Constitution that promised that all men were created equal, Ewing said.

"But, that promise is not true for all Americans. If Dr. King were alive today, it would be obvious to him that America has not honored that sacred obligation," he said.

Progress, yes, but still a ways to go

We have made some progress, Ewing said noting that at that moment, Barak Obama, America's first black president, was being sworn in for a second term.

"We made progress in Nebraska when I, a kid who grew up in the North Omaha projects, was the first African-American elected to a county-wide office," he said. "But our journey is not over."

A reeling legacy

Dr. King would be concerned with how his legacy of fighting for the rights of labor, the poor and elderly is faring these days, Ewing said.

"He wouldn't be happy about what's happening to the labor unions, or that the federal government is trying to balance the budget on the backs of seniors, the poor and the hungry," he said.

As more wealth accumulates in the hands of fewer people, the American dream becomes more unlikely, Ewing said.

Join the solution

Ewing challenged everyone in the audience to be part of the solution by being open to opportunities when they are presented. "Dr. King wasn't looking to be a civil rights leader, but when the opportunity came, he was prepared."

Ewing listed his "four S's" -- Secret to Success:

  • Seek opportunity to do great things, challenge yourself, get out of your comfort zone and find a cause that motivates you;
  • See your potential to make a difference;
  • Seize the opportunities given and never stop working to be the best you can be;
  • Success will come if all these steps are followed.


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