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In Brazil, We Also Have a Dream

Martin Luther King, JrAlmost all political speeches are irrelevant and soon forgotten. But, a couple weeks ago, the entire world commemorated the speech given 50 years ago by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in which he said that he had a dream that his four children would not suffer from prejudice because of the color of their skin, and that the children of ex-slaves and the children of ex-slave owners would be capable of sitting together at the same table as brothers and sisters.

Half a century later we too have dreams.

We have a dream that one day no Brazilian child will be deprived of a quality education that might permit him or her to understand the logic of the world, to be dazzled by its beauty and indignant about its injustices, to speak its languages, and to have a profession that will permit him or her to enjoy and improve the world where he or she lives.

For this to occur, we have a dream of taking action so that the poorest child can have, beginning in early childhood, a school of quality equal to the best in the world, so that one day the children of the workers will study in the same schools as the children of the bosses; the children of the favelas, in the schools of the children of the condominiums; and, consequently, so that Brazil will have bridges instead of walls between its social classes and its urban spaces.

We have a dream that one day in the not-so-distant future all Brazilians will believe that this is both necessary and possible. They will stop considering this dream as utopian deliria or political demagoguery. They will look around and see that many other countries have already undergone this revolution, that it will arrive late in Brazil, just as, in our country, freeing the slaves arrived late.

They will remember that until 1863, in Dr. King’s country — and for decades longer in Brazil — the idea that the black people would some day be free of slavery was seen as stupidity. And today his country’s President is a black man.

We also have a dream that, by believing in its dreams, Brazil will rise up and make them come true. Because the dream is not achieved when it is a solitary one, nor when the dreamers continue lying, as our National Anthem says, in a “splendid cradle.” Only when it is everyone’s dream and everyone rises together does that dream become a reality.

If we believe, if we rise up in its defense, it will be possible to make the dream come true: instead of exclusion we will have social unity when we guarantee that all Brazilian children will study in the same high-quality schools.

We have a dream of peaceful cities, with an efficient, sustainable and distributive economy, with functioning social services, with well-distributed national income.

We have a dream that Brazil will be the storehouse, not only of soy and iron, but also of knowledge in the sciences, technologies and arts, that Brazil will be a country ruled by ethics in the behavior of its politicians and in the priorities of its politics.

And we know that all these objectives depend upon the quality school and schools of the same quality for all.

We have a dream that the Brazil of the future will be Brazil of our dreams.

Cristovam Buarque aCBUARQUE@senado.gov.br) is a professor at the University of Brasília and a senator (PDT-DF).

Translated by Linda Jerome (LinJerome@cs.com).

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