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Martin Luther King: “I Have a Dream”

Posted by Larry Doyle on January 21, 2013 10:00 AM |

In the summer of 1963, Martin Luther King delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C.. On this the day that our nation honors Dr. King, I welcome sharing his words once again so that we may try to reflect on where our nation stood at that point in time and simultaneously critique ourselves as to where we stand today.

I Have A Dream”

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. 

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon of hope to millions of slaves, who had been seared in the flames of whithering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity. But one hundred years later, the colored America is still not free. One hundred years later, the life of the colored American is still sadly crippled by the manacle of segregation and the chains of discrimination.

One hundred years later, the colored American lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the colored American 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 a shameful condition.

In a sense we have come to our Nation’s Capital to cash a check. When the architects of our great republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every America was to fall heir.

This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed to 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 its colored people a bad check, a check that 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 security of justice.

We have also come to his hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now. This is not time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism.

Now is the time to make real the promise of democracy.

Now it the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice.

Now it the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood.

Now is the time to make justice a reality to all of God’s children.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment and to underestimate the determination of it’s colored citizens. This sweltering summer of the colored people’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 colored Americans 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 colored citizen 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.

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 colored person’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one.

We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating “for white only.”

We cannot be satisfied as long as a colored person in Mississippi cannot vote and a colored person 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 your trials and tribulations. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by storms of persecutions 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 South Carolina go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our modern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed.

Let us not wallow in the valley of despair. I say to you, my friends, we have the difficulties of today and tomorrow.

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 out in the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slaveowners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

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

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

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; that one day right

down in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be engulfed, every hill shall be exalted and every mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plains 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 that I will go back to the South with. 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 climb 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 new meaning “My country ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my father’s died, land of the Pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring!”

And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true. So let freedom ring from the hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York.

Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.

Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado.

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California.

But not only that, let freedom, ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi and every mountainside.

When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every tenement and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old spiritual, “Free at last, free at last. Thank God Almighty, we are free at last.”

I would maintain that in certain respects our nation has made very real strides on issues raised by Dr. King and on other fronts we have seen precious little progress if not actual regression.

How will our nation look 50 years from now?

What if today were Judgment Day?

God Bless America.

Larry Doyle

Isn’t it time or overtime to subscribe to all my work via e-mail, an RSS feed, on Twitter or Facebook.

I have no business interest with any entity referenced in this commentary. The opinions expressed are my own. I am a proponent of real transparency within our markets so that investor confidence and investor protection can be achieved.

  • Ed Pefferman

    Larry needs some down time.


    • LD


      Down time? More sarcasm on your part?

      National holiday and I post MLK’s most famous speech. Maybe some people, especially younger generations, may read it and learn something.

      If you think I need some down time, nobody is compelling you to come here, although you are obviously always welcome.

      • Ed Pefferman

        I have been coming to your website off, and on, for
        about a year now, and I have reached some conculsions.

        You give Catholcism a bad name. You are a pompous ass
        cloaked in selfrighteousness pedddling snake oil or
        your own religious/political idealogy.


        • Peter Scannell

          Actually, sometimes I think LD is too good a catholic.

  • LD


    If that is your conclusion, then why do you bother to come back? Seriously. Spare yourself and me as well.

    Catholicism a bad name? When did we meet and how would you know if you have never met me? Pompous ass? You are entitled to your opinion. Somehow the traffic and those subscribing to the site have grown exponentially so they must not be aware of my pomposity. Please don’t tell them.

    Peddling snake oil? You could not spend ten cents here even if you wanted to. Look hard for a window to make a tip or a contribution to defray the cost of the site. You will be looking for a looooong time.

    Sounds like you might not appreciate my opinions and points of view. Last I checked we had a 1st Amendment.

    You’re entitled to your opinion, although if I bother you, my recommendation would be you simply not visit because you can rest assured I am not about to stop writing anytime soon.

    In fact given interest in my work from a major outlet, there is a decent chance I will have a larger platform to deliver my work later this year. Should I let you know how that develops?

    Give Catholicism a bad name? Really?

    I hope I am not giving you any sort of added anxiety.

    Peddling snake oil?

    Wow….I will add that to the list.

    You really brought a lot to the discussion about MLK’s speech. Congratulations.

  • Ed Pefferman

    I’m not going anywhere, I intend to vist “your site”
    on a regular bases.


  • Ed Pefferman

    Did you forget we had an Inauguration today?


    • Always Learning


      Would you be satisfied if LD commented on the Inauguration, or would he need to mention Mrs. Obama’s new hairstyle, too?

    • coe

      speaking of a pompous ass cloaked in self righteousness peddling snake oil and selling his own political ideology…apologies to one and all…that one was simply too easy to overlook…it is a great day for America, for liberty, for democracy…let’s also pray that our newly reelected President uses the power of the office wisely in these challenging times

    • LD


      Oh I get it. You launch, snake oil, pompous, and assorted other terms of endearment (oh yeah, ass and self-righteous ) and then inquire as to why I failed to “kiss the ring”, so to speak.

      Well, I have always been one trying to promote “transparency” so I think we accomplished that. Thank you.

      I think most readers here would appreciate and understand my regular pursuit and appreciation for democracy, freedom, liberty, truth, transparency, and integrity and the exposing of all those who would inhibit those pursuits at any point along the way.

      I hope our country and our reelected President are able to experience a lot of these virtues over the next 4 years, 40 years, and a lot longer than that.

      As for FLOTUS new hair style, whatever makes her happy. I do hope she might take up marriage and the two parent family as her cause celebre for her second term. A continuation of a 40+ per cent single parent birth rate will take our nation down the drain but quick.

  • Ed Pefferman

    I hope this doesn’t degenerate into my clergymen
    against yours, but I won’t be less “holy” that


  • Eddie

    What a speech for true freedom!

  • silver

    LD, I for one can not wait to hear more about “a larger platform….. later this year”!

    Obviously, if you are getting such strong reactions from someone with differing views, you are doing something right!! Keep it up!

    Best wishes!!

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