I Have A Dream 2020: Andrew Parker reflects on speech he gave at Edmonton anti-racism rally
'King had his dream in the 1950s and '60s. What does the dream look like now?'
When Andrew Parker, an Edmonton teacher, was asked to make a speech at an anti-racism rally on June 5, he was given one day to sum up his take on the racism he has experienced over 37 years.
His inspiration was Martin Luther King Jr.'s famous I Have A Dream speech delivered on Aug. 28, 1963.
"King had his dream in the 1950s and '60s," Parker said. "What does the dream look like now? Has it changed? Are there other influences? Is Malcom X's dream now being presented in that dream too?
"I wanted to find a way to merge both of their energies into one speech and tie that to the city of Edmonton."
He anticipated performing his speech in front of 500 people, never imagining the more than 10,000 who would attend the demonstration against anti-Black racism and police brutality at the Alberta Legislature on June 5.
"I tried to speak in half of the speech to the Black people. The community that I belong to and some of the challenges, grievances or thoughts," Parker said.
"I also wanted to incorporate how the allies or people who aren't Black can relate to the situation or perhaps be introduced to a conversation they've never heard before in a public setting."
He wanted to end the speech to be provocative, prodding each listener to think of ways they could help end systemic racism.
- Join CBC Alberta for a personal and in-depth discussion about systemic racism, We Need to Talk, on June 25 at 6:30 p.m.
- Miranda Jimmy on reclaiming her Cree identity after losing it to systemic racism
"It seems like history for the longest time has been ignoring the elephant in the room which is racism," he said. "My challenge to our city is — I already know it's a great city — how can we lead by example for the rest of the nation. How can Edmonton lead by example?"
"The challenge was: What are we going to do? Are we the city of brotherly love? Yes? Then OK, every Black person who comes to this city needs to feel safe. How can we prove that on a daily basis?"
Join CBC Alberta for a personal and in-depth discussion about systemic racism, We Need to Talk, on Thursday, June 25, at 6:30 p.m. MT. Join CBC hosts Sandra Batson and Tanara McLean for a free, public forum discussion that shines a light on systemic racism in the province through the stories of people who have experienced it firsthand, with an aim to put forward potential solutions, concrete actions and examples of success.
Panellists will include:
- Adora Nwofor, Calgary comedian and activist.
- David Este, professor of social work, University of Calgary.
- Ryan Holtz, Edmonton podcaster and marketing expert.
- Jodi Calahoo-Stonehouse, executive director of Natamoowin, Yellowhead Indigenous Education Foundation.
- Spirit River Striped Wolf, president of Mount Royal University students association.
With special performances from:
- Alanna Bluebird-Onespot, poet, Tsuut'ina Nation.
- Andrew Parker, Edmonton teacher.
Have a personal story to share about your experience with systemic racism? Email email@example.com.