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Monday, January 16, 2012

Remembering The Dream: In Honor of Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr. had a message of hope and a vision of love that he unabashedly shared with those of his time and that continues to carry on long after his tragic and untimely death. In these modern times when the media tends to focus on bringing to our attention individuals of unsavory character who represent the radical fringe of Christian fundamentalism that fuel hate and intolerance and inflame the fears and aggressions of ignorance, it's more important than ever to reflect back on the critical message MLK jr. shared with us all.  

Martin Luther King Jr. was a man who has inspired countless many to go out into the sometimes hostile world and sow seeds of peace, understanding and justice. He was a bold man with a bold message. A message that was able to shake up America's culture and bring foreward change. His words continue to stir hearts and challenge people to take greater steps towards loving more like Christ and keeping the spirit of servitude and compassion that Jesus taught us alive. May we remember him today.

In honor of Dr. King, this post will simply include one of his most famous and inspiring speeches, "I Have a Dream".

I hope you find yourself inspired! :)

I Have a Dream

~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation. [Applause]

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of captivity.

But one hundred years later, we must face the tragic fact that the Negro is still not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize an appalling condition.

In a sense we have come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men would be guaranteed the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check which has come back marked "insufficient funds." But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check -- a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to open the doors of opportunity to all of God's children. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment and to underestimate the determination of the Negro. This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.

We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny and their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.

And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?" We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro's basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.

Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.

I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal."

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a desert state, sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.                   

I have a dream that one day the state of Alabama, whose governor's lips are presently dripping with the words of interposition and nullification, will be transformed into a situation where little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls and walk together as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith with which I return to the South. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with a new meaning, "My country, 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim's pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring."


  1. Great post Jessica... "What we have loved, others will love, but we must teach them how." In the same way, I think we have to take this new generation in our schools and teach them what King said and believed, not just for the sake of inspiration, but for the sake of truth.

  2. So true Alpana! Thank you for your thoughts and for stopping by. :)

  3. Excellent tribute to a great man, Jessica! I have always regarded King's "I Have a Dream" speech as one the most eloquent and soul-stirring speeches I've ever heard or read, and I've always considered King as one of the greatest champions for social justice who ever lived. Thank you for posting the text of his speech here. But I have to say that the best way to experience this remarkable instance of oratorical magnificence is to hear and watch it in its entirety on YouTube. Words printed on a computer screen can hardly capture the passion and power of this amazingly charismatic figure and orator, nor can it capture the poignancy of the massive audience's response. http://youtu.be/smEqnnklfYs

  4. Thank you Steve for the link to his speech so everyone can watch it and witness it for themselves! I should have thought about including it in this post. :) I'm glad you enjoyed it..he was a great man indeed.

  5. We're getting there, slowly. Maybe in another hundred or two hundred years. But nothing ever worth doing was done quickly.

  6. What a masterpiece! And his words are still resonating in the hearts and minds of the whole human race.

    Discrimination is in the hearts of men more than the skin color that one sees... I'm still surprised that it happens til this day.

    But Martin Luther's dream is evolving. America has gone a long long way ~ and we are still journeying together when one day we could really all walk together as brothers and sisters...

  7. Such powerful words by MLK. I still look forward to that day when there will be equality among mankind. :-)

  8. People followed him because he followed Christ . . .
    The truth will set us all free.
    Thanks for this tribute, Jessica, and for reminding us of the greatness of this man who sought to right the wrongs of our world and died in trying.
    May he always inspire our own societal battles because the word of the Lord rings true through him.

  9. Wonderful post, Jessica. I still cry as I read his speech. Very poignant and true. You are wonderful to do such a lovely tribute to a man that was golden in our times. Thank you.

  10. King was only 34 when he delivered that immortal speech, and he died before he turned 40. One wonders what he would have accomplished had he lived longer, and one marvels at the preternatural wisdom and oratorical power of someone so young. Even though I don't believe in a personal God, it's tempting to think that some purposeful force or higher intelligence must have been speaking and working through him to uplift humankind.

  11. What a speech! May his legend live on and always inspire people to dream and to make the world a better place for all nations, race and colour! Great post Jessica!

  12. A hero worth celebrating!
    Well done Jessica!