The Deferred Dream

English: Dr. Martin Luther King giving his &qu...
English: Dr. Martin Luther King giving his “I Have a Dream” speech during the March on Washington in Washington, D.C., on 28 August 1963. Español: Dr. Martin Luther King dando su discurso “Yo tengo un sueño” durante la Marcha sobre Washington por el trabajo y la libertad en Washington, D.C., 28 de agosto de 1963. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

She knew that Dr. King had a dream that we would one day live as equals, but that was only half the story.

She had been told that her dreams of being a famous actress were nothing, that no one would accept her because of her mental disabilities. Her foster mother forbade her to even think about trying to escape from her disabilities and better herself. It just wasn’t going to happen, not on her watch.

But every time that the girl felt nothing but despair and hopelessness, she tried to think about that one dream, the dream of equality, love, and respect. Those were the things that Dr. King fought for, the things that he wanted for America. He had lived during a time where an entire ethnicity was denied their rights simply because of the color of their skin. He believed that that was wrong and he sought to change that.

But what of those who were mentally disabled and could not speak for themselves, she wondered. Who was going to speak for them? Who was going to tell the country that mentally disabled people had rights? Who was going to rise up and demand that all Americans, disabled or not, should be able to live their lives without limitations due to their abilities or lack of abilities? But as long as there was the social stigma against mentally disabled people, this dream of hers was never going to happen.

Every year, the girl watched as those who have brown skin were being able to succeed at obtaining their life goals, but those with mental disabilities were being pushed further back into the margins of society. She still couldn’t believe that no one wanted to give a voice to those people. She still couldn’t believe that no one wanted to give those people a chance.

Someone had to speak out. Someone had to tell the American people “no” and that mentally disabled people had rights. The America of her time was no longer black and white; it was a matter of abilities and such.

The girl stood up and said, “Enough is enough! If no one is going to give them a voice, then I shall give them mine. Dr. King was right to declare his vision to America, so why can’t I? I dream that there will come a day where no one will be judged or denied their rights because of their mental disabilities. There will be a day where instead of being locked away in dark rooms and hidden from the world in shame, mentally disabled people will be allowed to not only live in society, but to be productive members of society. There will be a day where the word “retarded” will no longer be allowed to be uttered, and those who use that word will be shamed. There will be a day where children will no longer be teased by the other children because of their mental disabilities. But that day won’t happen unless a mentally disabled person steps outside the locked room and speaks out.”

The girl packed her things and slipped out the door while no one was looking. She was going to change the way things were. No one was going to stop her, deny her, or tell her that her dream was nothing. She was going to have her say, whether American society wanted her to or not.

Within a few weeks, 9-year-old Andrea Muty was chosen to be in a movie that depicted a woman’s fight for freedom after being imprisoned in a mental hospital. That movie soon changed how people thought about mentally disabled people, and most people were very upset about how the mentally disabled were depicted in television and movies. Other people thought that Andrea was wrong to push her dreams of inclusion of mentally disabled people onto society, and some of them urged her to “go back into the padded cell and never come out again“.

But as for Andrea, she knew that she had a long way to go before her true vision was to be realized. And she wouldn’t have had the courage to do just that had it not been for one man who spoke about equality.

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