On August 15, 1969, half a million people gathered on a 600-acre dairy farm in Bethel, New York, for what would become one of the biggest events in music history – Woodstock.
The idea behind the first Woodstock musical festival was to raise enough money to build a recording studio in Woodstock, New York. But the three days that unfolded between August 15 and 18 far exceeded anyone’s expectations and became a cultural touchstone in American history.
My wife Shannon and I recently watched the Netflix documentary Woodstock: Three days that defined a generation, and we were awed by how so many people from all over the country and world were able to gather in one place, listen to some of the greatest musicians in history, and celebrate peace, love and tolerance during such a turbulent time in America’s history.
The peaceful nature of such a large crowd during a time of national unrest made me think of another historic moment – the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom 56 years ago today. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his riveting “I Have a Dream” speech that day to more than 250,000 people. The speech called for civil and economic rights and an end to racism in the United States using some of the most eloquent and inclusive language I have ever heard.
While the tone of this iconic speech is stern and resolute, there is the overall feeling that the ideal of equality for all must be reached together, not apart. Not by pushing people away, not by calling each other names, and not by taking out our personal frustrations on people who are just trying to go about living their daily lives.
Dominated by the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights Movement, the 1960s also saw the Cuban Missile Crisis and the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King. Yet, even though rife with conflict and uncertainty, there still seemed to be more of an undertone of peace, love and tolerance in the messages spoken during that time versus so much of what we hear today.
I know the world we live in now is very different from the one in which I grew up, but I am an optimist, and I believe that peace, love and tolerance will prevail. I see these characteristics intertwined in the fabric of our culture at Texas Children’s, and it gives me hope. The diverse and inclusive culture we’ve created here, and the tireless work we do side by side to care for all children and women from every walk of life continue to inspire me.
In honor of the anniversary of Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, I am re-sharing a video I first posted on his birthday earlier this year.
The video contains a brief excerpt of his speech and a few of his quotes that continue to guide me every day. I hope they instill in you the same feeling of hope and unity they give me.