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We Dream a World

Martin Luther King, Jr.’s granddaughter is carrying on his message with a new book.
Headshot of Yolanda Renee King and the cover of We Dream a World.
Orchard Books/Scholastic, Inc., Dennis Reggie; Photo composite Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.

Fifteen-year-old Yolanda Renee King is carrying the message of her grandfather, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., with a new picture book. We Dream a World asks kids to dream of a better world.

Yolanda says the title of the book was inspired by Dr. King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech, which was inspired by a 1941 poem called “I Dream a World,” by Langston Hughes. Both the speech and the poem imagine a kinder, fairer world for everyone, no matter the color of their skin. Yolanda’s book continues this message, but for a new generation.

“This book really, I guess, challenges everyone to imagine a world without racism and violence and discrimination,” Yolanda told National Public Radio (NPR).

We Dream a World was released on January 2, 2024, just 13 days before what would have been Dr. King’s 95th birthday. Yolanda never knew her grandfather, but she has heard many stories about him, listened to his speeches, and watched videos of him. She knew she wanted to continue his work, and the work of her grandmother, Coretta Scott King, from an early age. Today, Yolanda is not only an author but also a public speaker.

“I am very proud to be their granddaughter,” Yolanda said in a 2023 speech at Clemson University in South Carolina. “Their examples belong to all of us. We are all challenged to carry forth their unfinished work.”

Yolanda told NPR that young people can improve the world around them.

“[People] think that, oh, I have to do a speech, [but] it’s not the only way,” she said. “It can be something like using your talents. So if you’re, for instance, an artist, painting art pieces that really reflect what’s going on. And you could write songs or [join] a local group or [start] a club at school. There are just so many ways.”

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Did You Know?

Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Bernice King is the daughter of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Many members of the King family are continuing the work of Martin Luther and Coretta Scott King. In 2023, their youngest daughter, Bernice King, wrote a children’s book called It Starts With Me.

Celebrate Black History Month

February is Black History Month in the United States. We’ve put together a list of some Black Americans you might want to learn about. Check out Britannica for more!

Portrait of Alexander Augusta
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Alexander Augusta (1825–1890). Born a free man in Virginia, Alexander Augusta became a doctor in 1856. In 1863, he began serving as the surgeon for an all-Black infantry of Union troops during the Civil War. He was the first Black American to become a medical officer in this war. Augusta soon found out that Black soldiers were being paid less than white soldiers. After he wrote a letter to Congress, the government began paying all soldiers equally. Augusta would later become the nation’s first Black professor of medicine, taking a teaching job at Howard University in Washington, D.C.
Portrait of Oscar Micheaux
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Oscar Micheaux (1884–1951). Oscar Micheaux was the first major Black filmmaker in American history. His film career began in 1919 with The Homesteader, which was based on a book he’d written about his experiences owning a farm. Micheaux would go on to make more than 45 movies. All of his films featured all-Black casts, and some of them were about racism in America.
Portrait of Augusta Savage
National Archives, Washington, D.C.

Augusta Savage (1892–1962). Augusta Savage’s first sculptures were shaped from the red clay soil in her home state of Florida. In the early 1920s, Savage studied sculpture at the Cooper Union School of Art in New York City. She then moved to the New York neighborhood of Harlem, which was home to many Black writers and artists, and her work became well known. During her career, Savage created many sculptures of Black Americans.

Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.

Althea Gibson (1927–2003). Althea Gibson was the top women’s tennis player in the mid to late 1950s. She was the first Black player to win the French Open (1956), Wimbledon (1957 and 1958), and the U.S. Open (1957 and 1958). For 10 years, beginning in 1947, she won the American Tennis Association’s women’s singles championship. In 1964, Gibson began playing professional golf, becoming the first Black member of the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA).

More About Black History

Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. (LC-DIG-ppmsca-08978, LC-USW3-001546-D, LC-USZ62-127236, LC-USZ62-27663); Addison N. Scurlock—Michael Ochs Archives, Kean Collection—Archive Photos, © Michael Ochs Archives, Evan Agostini/Getty Images; Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Washington, D.C. (object no. 2009.50.2); PRNewsFoto/XM Satellite Radio/AP Images; AP Images; NASA; National Archives, Washington, D.C. (2803441); Pete Souza—Official White House Photo; Animation Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.

Are you interested in learning more about Black history? Click below for links to information about people, events, and more!

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