Skip to main content

West Valley City Journal

Granger High teacher performs ‘I Have a Dream’ speech

Mar 13, 2018 04:57PM ● By Jennifer Gardiner

Granger High teacher Ken Hopkins during Black History Month event. (Photo/Granite School District)

Granger High teacher Ken Hopkins will be retiring as a teacher after a career in public education that has spanned more than 30 years. His dramatic recitation of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech has become famous in the community. On Feb.  2, Hopkins performed the speech in celebration of Black History Month. 

Hopkins said the speech started when planning to do a presentation in his daughter’s class when she was in sixth grade, 23 years ago. His daughter wanted him to do something related to Martin Luther King Jr. so he decided to do the speech. 

“Practiced and practiced until my daughter couldn’t tell the difference between my voice and the video of MLK. I knew then it was time to take it on the road,” Hopkins said. “I got such a positive reaction from her class that it just took off from there and I’ve been doing the speech since.”

 Over the past 25 years, Hopkins said he has probably done the speech several hundred times and has had students, teachers and parents approach him telling him it was so touching, moving them to tears. He has had student after student say how they related to the message and hoped one day we could live up to King’s dream.

“It’s an awesome opportunity that has driven me for 37 years. I’ve been fortunate enough to be a two-time teacher of the year recipient and am passionate about my profession,” Hopkins said. “I am originally from Utah and I graduated from the high school where I’m currently teaching (Granger High). I have been here for the past five years and feel totally blessed to have a chance to come full circle.”

 Hopkins said that we have all had teachers in our lives like him who come to work each and every day try to make a difference in their students’ lives. He recalls a sixth-grade teacher of his who inspired him and taught him about his culture.  

“Taking me on the road from Ogden to Provo doing a presentation (using a collage built from a large appliance box) about African-Americans,” Hopkins said. “What an inspirational teacher and human being he was for me (particularly in 1969) considering the racial unrest in our country and the massive divide among the races. He is the person who I think about as I try to give a message of tolerance, acceptance and togetherness. So I’ve been presenting in front of large groups since the age of 11.”  

Hopkins said he finds inspiration through others. 

“I sometimes think my gift in life is the ability to connect with people and this ‘I Have a Dream’ speech has been the vehicle,” Hopkins said. “The principles behind Dr. King’s speech seem at times unobtainable and somewhat impossible. It is all of our duties (each doing what we can) to fix our gaze upon this goal because nothing will work unless we do.”

If you would like to see the performance you can find it on Granite School District’s Facebook page.