Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day here in the U. S. Walter Cronkite of CBS News referred to him as “the apostle of non-violence in the Civil Rights Movement“. I recently listened to Dr. King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech. You can find the entire speech below in this blog post. If you haven’t heard it in a while – or ever – now’s a good time!
Dr. King was a Baptist minister who helped found the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1957. It was on August 28, 1963 that he led the March on Washington where he shared his “I Have a Dream” speech. He gave an earlier version of this speech two months earlier at The Great March on Detroit in Cobo Arena on June 23, 1963. In 1964 he received the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to end racial segregation and discrimination through nonviolent means known as civil disobedience. He gave his last speech on April 3, 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee and was assassinated there the next day.
When I was in the early grades of Elementary School my school system began using busing to desegregate my school. This would have been just a couple of years after his famous speech. One of the boys bussed in was named Tony and we became friends. After Elementary School I lost track of him. Years later, when I was in High School a number of students were selected to visit elementary schools and talk to the students there and help give them a feel for what it was going to be like to advance to middle school and then high school. I remember going with several other students, among whom I was the only white. We all knew each other because we were in some of the same college-prep classes together. By then my high school was pretty evenly balanced racially, but the elementary schools were still not there yet. I remember going to an elementary school with an almost all-black student population. For me it was just students talking to students. I wonder what Tony would have thought. I’m sure I can’t really fully appreciate his experience. Or for that matter, the injustices so many have endured.
Towards the end of his “I Have a Dream” speech (at 16:57) Dr. King spoke of the day when “… all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jew and Gentile, Protestant and Catholic will be able to join hands …”.
Dr. King used words like justice, equality, and freedom. I think it’s probably fair to say that as a nation we still have room to grow. But I think it’s also fair to say that Dr. King made a difference – a big difference – for which (if you’ll permit me) I’m grateful.
Dr. King was a man of vision and faith. But not a blind faith or a weak hope. He saw better possibilities and he worked to bring them to fruition. He had a dream!
If we will fully make that day that Dr. King dreamed of a reality, we will no longer be divided into majorities and minorities. We’ll be both equal and individual.
Remember, in Mary Margaret’s rendition of The Story of Jonah, God says, “My love is great.” “And it is for all my creatures.”
Here’s Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech (or click here to view it on YouTube):
In his last speech, given April 3, 1968, although a bit eery in light of his assassination the next day, Dr. King shared more of his vision.
Here’s his last speech (or click here to view it on YouTube):
Truly a great man!