Ethiopian immigrant reflects on Martin Luther King's 'I Have a Dream' speech

9:48 PM, Aug 23, 2013   |    comments
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ST. LOUIS (KSDK) - There was a twinkle in his four-year-old eyes as he looked into the big broadcast camera and said "are you taking my picture?" And then he looked up at his father before he moved closer to the camera.

Gedlu Metafaria's memories are different than his four year old son's. He remembers starving children. He remembers soldiers who killed other children and forced their parents to pay for the bullet to take the bodies back.

He remembers the war in Ethiopia in 1979. It's the year he found freedom. He escaped the ravage and horror of his homeland and came to America. He heard Dr. Martin Luther King's infamous words, "I have a dream." That was a 30 years ago.

"My dream is to live in a society where children are not hungry, where there is peace, no anguish," Metafaria said.

He lives in St. Louis now with his wife and two children. He said Dr. King's message changed his life and the life of immigrants coming to America. The fight for civil rights was a battle for immigrants too.

"His struggle to integrate has affected the policymakers to accept refugees and immigrants. It crosses every culture and barrier that is why it appeals to immigrants," he said.

Metafaria found purpose in Dr. King's words. He dedicated the last several years of his life to helping African immigrants in St. Louis navigate their way through the laws and to the American way. His non-profit work ran out of money a few years ago, but he's still helping immigrants through other organizations. He knows part of Dr. King's dream is unfulfilled. He said there's still so much poverty and homelessness in our neighborhoods. Dr. King's dream of yesterday is Metafaria's vision of tomorrow.

He's determined to make sure his four and six year old sons remember Dr. King's words, just like he does.


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