Political Musings August 29, 2013: President Barack Obama honors 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington

POLITICAL MUSINGS

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

OP-EDS & ARTICLES

Obama honors 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington (Video)

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Martin Luther King, Jr. on the steps of Lincoln Memorial where he delivered his “I Have a Dream Speech” (Getty Images)

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President Barack Obama honored the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech on the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington on Aug. 28, 2013 at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC….READ MORE
President Barack Obama delivers remarks at the "Let Freedom Ring Commemoration and Call to Action" ceremony marking the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington, Aug, 28, 2013.
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Political Headlines August 28, 2013: Where Martin Luther King Stood at Lincoln Memorial, President Barack Obama Reframes a Dream for a New Era

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Where King Stood, Obama Reframes a Dream for a New Era

Source: NYT, 8-28-13

President Obama commemorated the 50th anniversary on Wednesday of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech.
Doug Mills/The New York Times

President Obama commemorated the 50th anniversary on Wednesday of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

President Obama stepped into the space where the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once spoke and summoned his iconic dream of a colorblind society in a celebration of a half-century of progress….READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency August 28, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Speech at the Let Freedom Ring Ceremony marking the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington & Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” Speech — Transcript

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

FULL TRANSCRIPT: President Obama’s speech on the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington

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Source: WaPo,  NYT, 8-28-13
Video: During his speech commemorating the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, President Obama says that while no one can match Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s brilliance, the spirt from 50 years ago lives on.

President Obama delivered the following remarks at the “Let Freedom Ring” ceremony to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington on Aug. 28, 2013, at the Lincoln Memorial.

Special coverage: March on Washington anniversary

Special coverage: March on Washington anniversary

The latest on the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington.

Video playlist: Memories of the march

Hear memories of the 1963 march and how it altered the lives of those who attended.

1963 march: Historical photos

1963 march: Historical photos

PHOTOS | The landmark civil rights protest on drew more than 200,000 people to the District.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: To the King family, who have sacrificed and inspired so much, to President Clinton, President Carter, Vice President Biden, Jill, fellow Americans, five decades ago today, Americans came to this honored place to lay claim to a promise made at our founding.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

In 1963, almost 200 years after those words were set to paper, a full century after a great war was fought and emancipation proclaimed, that promise, those truths remained unmet. And so they came by the thousands, from every corner of our country — men and women, young and old, blacks who longed for freedom and whites who could no longer accept freedom for themselves while witnessing the subjugation of others. Across the land, congregations sent them off with food and with prayer. In the middle of the night, entire blocks of Harlem came out to wish them well.

With the few dollars they scrimped from their labor, some bought tickets and boarded buses, even if they couldn’t always sit where they wanted to sit. Those with less money hitchhiked, or walked. They were seamstresses, and steelworkers, and students, and teachers, maids and pullman porters. They shared simple meals and bunked together on floors.

And then, on a hot summer day, they assembled here, in our nation’s capital, under the shadow of the great emancipator, to offer testimony of injustice, to petition their government for redress and to awaken America’s long-slumbering conscience.

We rightly and best remember Dr. King’s soaring oratory that day, how he gave mighty voice to the quiet hopes of millions, how he offered a salvation path for oppressed and oppressors alike. His words belong to the ages, possessing a power and prophecy unmatched in our time.

But we would do well to recall that day itself also belonged to those ordinary people whose names never appeared in the history books, never got on TV.

Many had gone to segregated schools and sat at segregated lunch counters, had lived in towns where they couldn’t vote, in cities where their votes didn’t matter. There were couples in love who couldn’t marry, soldiers who fought for freedom abroad that they found denied to them at home. They had seen loved ones beaten and children fire- hosed. And they had every reason to lash out in anger or resign themselves to a bitter fate.

And yet they chose a different path. In the face of hatred, they prayed for their tormentors. In the face of violence, they stood up and sat in with the moral force of nonviolence. Willingly, they went to jail to protest unjust laws, their cells swelling with the sound of freedom songs. A lifetime of indignities had taught them that no man can take away the dignity and grace that God grants us. They had learned through hard experience what Frederick Douglas once taught: that freedom is not given; it must be won through struggle and discipline, persistence and faith.

That was the spirit they brought here that day.

That was the spirit young people like John Lewis brought that day. That was the spirit that they carried with them like a torch back to their cities and their neighborhoods, that steady flame of conscience and courage that would sustain them through the campaigns to come, through boycotts and voter registration drives and smaller marches, far from the spotlight, through the loss of four little girls in Birmingham, the carnage of Edmund Pettus Bridge and the agony of Dallas, California, Memphis. Through setbacks and heartbreaks and gnawing doubt, that flame of justice flickered and never died.

And because they kept marching, America changed. Because they marched, the civil rights law was passed. Because they marched, the voting rights law was signed. Because they marched, doors of opportunity and education swung open so their daughters and sons could finally imagine a life for themselves beyond washing somebody else’s laundry or shining somebody else’s shoes. (Applause.) Because they marched, city councils changed and state legislatures changed and Congress changed and, yes, eventually the White House changed. (Cheers, applause.)

Because they marched, America became more free and more fair, not just for African-Americans but for women and Latinos, Asians and Native Americans, for Catholics, Jews and Muslims, for gays, for Americans with disabilities.

America changed for you and for me.

And the entire world drew strength from that example, whether it be young people who watched from the other side of an Iron Curtain and would eventually tear down that wall, or the young people inside South Africa who would eventually end the scourge of apartheid. (Applause.) Those are the victories they won, with iron wills and hope in their hearts. That is the transformation that they wrought with each step of their well-worn shoes. That’s the depth that I and millions of Americans owe those maids, those laborers, those porters, those secretaries — folks who could have run a company, maybe, if they had ever had a chance; those white students who put themselves in harm’s way even though they didn’t have to — (applause) — those Japanese- Americans who recalled their own interment, those Jewish Americans who had survived the Holocaust, people who could have given up and given in but kept on keeping on, knowing that weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning — (cheers, applause) — on the battlefield of justice, men and women without rank or wealth or title or fame would liberate us all, in ways that our children now take for granted as people of all colors and creeds live together and learn together and walk together, and fight alongside one another and love one another, and judge one another by the content of our character in this greatest nation on Earth.

To dismiss the magnitude of this progress, to suggest, as some sometimes do, that little has changed — that dishonors the courage and the sacrifice of those who paid the price to march in those years. (Applause.) Medgar Evers, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, Michael Schwerner, Martin Luther King Jr., they did not die in vain. (Applause.) Their victory was great.

But we would dishonor those heroes as well to suggest that the work of this nation is somehow complete. The arc of the moral universe may bend towards justice, but it doesn’t bend on its own. To secure the gains this country has made requires constant vigilance, not complacency. Whether it’s by challenging those who erect new barriers to the vote or ensuring that the scales of justice work equally for all in the criminal justice system and not simply a pipeline from underfunded schools to overcrowded jails — (applause) — it requires vigilance.

(Cheers, applause.)

And we’ll suffer the occasional setback. But we will win these fights. This country has changed too much. (Applause.) People of good will, regardless of party, are too plentiful for those with ill will to change history’s currents. (Applause.)

In some ways, though, the securing of civil rights, voting rights, the eradication of legalized discrimination — the very significance of these victories may have obscured a second goal of the march, for the men and women who gathered 50 years ago were not there in search of some abstract idea. They were there seeking jobs as well as justice — (applause) — not just the absence of oppression but the presence of economic opportunity. For what does it profit a man, Dr. King would ask, to sit at an integrated lunch counter if he can’t afford the meal?

This idea that — that one’s liberty is linked to one’s livelihood, that the pursuit of happiness requires the dignity of work, the skills to find work, decent pay, some measure of material security — this idea was not new.

Lincoln himself understood the Declaration of Independence in such terms, as a promise that in due time, the weights should be lifted from the shoulders of all men and that all should have an equal chance.

Dr. King explained that the goals of African-Americans were identical to working people of all races: decent wages, fair working conditions, livable housing, old age security, health and welfare measures — conditions in which families can grow, have education for their children and respect in the community.

What King was describing has been the dream of every American. It’s what’s lured for centuries new arrivals to our shores. And it’s along this second dimension of economic opportunity, the chance through honest toil to advance one’s station in life, that the goals of 50 years ago have fallen most short.

Yes, there have been examples of success within black America that would have been unimaginable a half-century ago. But as has already been noted, black unemployment has remained almost twice as high as white employment (sic), Latino unemployment close behind. The gap in wealth between races has not lessened, it’s grown.

As President Clinton indicated, the position of all working Americans, regardless of color, has eroded, making the dream Dr. King described even more elusive.

For over a decade, working Americans of all races have seen their wages and incomes stagnate. Even as corporate profits soar, even as the pay of a fortunate few explodes, inequality has steadily risen over the decades. Upward mobility has become harder. In too many communities across this country in cities and suburbs and rural hamlets, the shadow of poverty casts a pall over our youth, their lives a fortress of substandard schools and diminished prospects, inadequate health care and perennial violence.

And so as we mark this anniversary, we must remind ourselves that the measure of progress for those who marched 50 years ago was not merely how many blacks had joined the ranks of millionaires; it was whether this country would admit all people who were willing to work hard, regardless of race, into the ranks of a middle-class life. (Applause.) The test was not and never has been whether the doors of opportunity are cracked a bit wider for a few. It was whether our economic system provides a fair shot for the many, for the black custodian and the white steelworker, the immigrant dishwasher and the Native American veteran. To win that battle, to answer that call — this remains our great unfinished business.

We shouldn’t fool ourselves. The task will not be easy. Since 1963 the economy’s changed.

The twin forces of technology and global competition have subtracted those jobs that once provided a foothold into the middle class, reduced the bargaining power of American workers.

And our politics has suffered. Entrenched interests — those who benefit from an unjust status quo resisted any government efforts to give working families a fair deal, marshaling an army of lobbyists and opinion makers to argue that minimum wage increases or stronger labor laws or taxes on the wealthy who could afford it just to fund crumbling schools — that all these things violated sound economic principles.

We’d be told that growing inequality was the price for a growing economy, a measure of the free market — that greed was good and compassion ineffective, and those without jobs or health care had only themselves to blame.

And then there were those elected officials who found it useful to practice the old politics of division, doing their best to convince middle-class Americans of a great untruth, that government was somehow itself to blame for their growing economic insecurity — that distant bureaucrats were taking their hard-earned dollars to benefit the welfare cheat or the illegal immigrant.

And then, if we’re honest with ourselves, we’ll admit that during the course of 50 years, there were times when some of us, claiming to push for change, lost our way. The anguish of assassinations set off self-defeating riots.

Legitimate grievances against police brutality tipped into excuse- making for criminal behavior. Racial politics could cut both ways as the transformative message of unity and brotherhood was drowned out by the language of recrimination. And what had once been a call for equality of opportunity, the chance for all Americans to work hard and get ahead was too often framed as a mere desire for government support, as if we had no agency in our own liberation, as if poverty was an excuse for not raising your child and the bigotry of others was reason to give up on yourself. All of that history is how progress stalled. That’s how hope was diverted. It’s how our country remained divided.

But the good news is, just as was true in 1963, we now have a choice. We can continue down our current path in which the gears of this great democracy grind to a halt and our children accept a life of lower expectations, where politics is a zero-sum game, where a few do very well while struggling families of every race fight over a shrinking economic pie. That’s one path. Or we can have the courage to change.

The March on Washington teaches us that we are not trapped by the mistakes of history, that we are masters of our fate.

But it also teaches us that the promise of this nation will only be kept when we work together. We’ll have to reignite the embers of empathy and fellow feeling, the coalition of conscience that found expression in this place 50 years ago.

And I believe that spirit is there, that true force inside each of us. I see it when a white mother recognizes her own daughter in the face of a poor black child. I see it when the black youth thinks of his own grandfather in the dignified steps of an elderly white man. It’s there when the native born recognizing that striving spirit of a new immigrant, when the interracial couple connects the pain of a gay couple who were discriminated against and understands it as their own. That’s where courage comes from, when we turn not from each other or on each other but towards one another, and we find that we do not walk alone. That’s where courage comes from. (Applause.)

And with that courage, we can stand together for good jobs and just wages. With that courage, we can stand together for the right to health care in the richest nation on earth for every person. (Applause.) With that courage, we can stand together for the right of every child, from the corners of Anacostia to the hills of Appalachia, to get an education that stirs the mind and captures the spirit and prepares them for the world that awaits them. (Applause.) With that courage, we can feed the hungry and house the homeless and transform bleak wastelands of poverty into fields of commerce and promise.

America, I know the road will be long, but I know we can get there. Yes, we will stumble, but I know we’ll get back up. That’s how a movement happens. That’s how history bends. That’s how, when somebody is faint of heart, somebody else brings them along and says, come on, we’re marching. (Cheers, applause.)

There’s a reason why so many who marched that day and in the days to come were young, for the young are unconstrained by habits of fear, unconstrained by the conventions of what is. They dared to dream different and to imagine something better. And I am convinced that same imagination, the same hunger of purpose serves in this generation.

We might not face the same dangers as 1963, but the fierce urgency of now remains. We may never duplicate the swelling crowds and dazzling processions of that day so long ago, no one can match King’s brilliance, but the same flames that lit the heart of all who are willing to take a first step for justice, I know that flame remains. (Applause.)

That tireless teacher who gets to class early and stays late and dips into her own pocket to buy supplies because she believes that every child is her charge — she’s marching. (Applause.) That successful businessman who doesn’t have to, but pays his workers a fair wage and then offers a shot to a man, maybe an ex-con, who’s down on his luck — he’s marching.

(Cheers, applause.) The mother who pours her love into her daughter so that she grows up with the confidence to walk through the same doors as anybody’s son — she’s marching. (Cheers, applause.) The father who realizes the most important job he’ll ever have is raising his boy right, even if he didn’t have a father, especially if he didn’t have a father at home — he’s marching. (Applause.) The battle-scarred veterans who devote themselves not only to helping their fellow warriors stand again and walk again and run again, but to keep serving their country when they come home — they are marching. (Applause.) Everyone who realizes what those glorious patriots knew on that day, that change does not come from Washington but to Washington, that change has always been built on our willingness, we, the people, to take on the mantle of citizenship — you are marching. (Applause.)

And that’s the lesson of our past, that’s the promise of tomorrow, that in the face of impossible odds, people who love their country can change it. And when millions of Americans of every race and every region, every faith and every station can join together in a spirit of brotherhood, then those mountains will be made low, and those rough places will be made plain, and those crooked places, they straighten out towards grace, and we will vindicate the faith of those who sacrificed so much and live up to the true meaning of our creed as one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. (Cheers, applause.)

Political Headlines August 28, 2013: Former President Bill Clinton praises Martin Luther King, implores people to ‘push open those stubborn gates holding America back”

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Clinton praises King, implores people to ‘push open those stubborn gates holding America back”

Source: Washington Post, 8-28-13

For President Bill Clinton, this day 50 years ago in the shadows of the Lincoln Memorial, marks “one of the most important days in American history.” Clinton joined President Barack Obama and the family of Martin Luther King Jr. Wednesday….READ MORE

Political Headlines August 28, 2013: Former President Jimmy Carter pays tribute to Martin Luther King, says nation still has a ‘tremendous agenda’ ahead

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Carter pays tribute to King, says nation still has a ‘tremendous agenda’ ahead

Source: Washington Post, 8-28-13

Former President Jimmy Carter is paying tribute to Martin Luther King Jr. on this historic anniversary, even as he extols the nation to continue to work for a better America. Carter joined members of the King family as well as President Barack Obama….READ MORE

History Buzz August 28, 2013: 9 things about MLK’s speech and the March on Washington

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

History Buzz

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

9 things about MLK’s speech and the March on Washington

Source: CNN, 8-28-13

martin-luther-king-i-have-a-dream-speech

“I have a dream this afternoon that my four little children will not come up in the same young days that I came up within, but they will be judged on the basis of the content of their character, not the color of their skin.” The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr….READ MORE

Political Headlines August 28, 2013: President Barack Obama Commemorates 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Obama Commemorates 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington

AFP/Getty Images

Wednesday marks the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and the “I Have a Dream” speech delivered by civil rights icon, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

It was King’s stirring and historic address at the Lincoln Memorial that electrified the crowd of 250,000 and helped pave the way for laws ending segregation and other indignities suffered by blacks that stretched back to the 17th century when they were first brought to the country as slaves….READ MORE

On This Day in History… August 28, 1963: 50th Anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr. delivering his famous “I Have a Dream” Speech at the Lincoln Memorial

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY

HISTORY, NEWS & POLITICS

HISTORY & POLITICAL HEADLINES

“I Have a Dream”: The 50th Anniversary of Martin Luther King’s Famous Speech

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On This Day in History… August 28, 1963: 50th Anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr. delivering his famous “I Have a Dream” Speech at the Lincoln Memorial, during the March on Washington
 
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Fifty years ago this week, on August 28, 1963, the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., delivered his famous “I Have a Dream Speech” on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. He spoke to a crowd of more than 200,000 people who had come to the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, in what was one of the largest demonstrations the capital had ever seen. The speech has become part of our collective American memory, our national canon. We have all heard its cadences, its most famous lines, but rare is the opportunity or time to read the speech in full. To commemorate the occasion, to honor King’s memory and the continued work of the civil rights movement, we give you “I Have a Dream” as the latest in our primary text series. –The Editors

Download the Audio mp3 of Address

KING

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.

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 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 their captivity. But 100 years later the Negro still is 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 languished in the corners of American society and finds himself in exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we’ve 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, yes black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable 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, a 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’ve 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 make real the promises of democracy. 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. Now is the time!

Now is the time to make justice a reality for 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 the Negro. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality—1963 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 worn 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 a 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.

They have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone. And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always 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 the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. 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 our children are stripped of their self-hood and robbed of their dignity for whites only. We cannot 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 jail 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 South Carolina, 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, so even though we face 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 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 state sweltering with the heat of injustice, 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 the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racist, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification, one day right there 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 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 that I 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 stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the 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 fathers 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 prodigious 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 snowcapped 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 Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!

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

And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village 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 Negro spiritual, “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

For the speech sources, we used the text of the National Archives, cross-referenced with audio of the event kept at Stanford University. 

History Buzz August 24, 2013: March on Washington 50th Anniversary: ‘Their March Is Now Our March’

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP


History Buzz

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

March on Washington: ‘Their March Is Now Our March’

Source: ABC News Radio, 8-24-13

MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Images

Commemorating the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, civil-rights leaders and elected officials gathered the site of the original event to decry voter-ID laws, the Supreme Court’s recent decision on the Voting Rights Act, “Stand Your Ground” gun laws, and racial profiling.

Wednesday will mark a half century since Martin Luther King Jr. delivered the iconic “I Have a Dream” speech on Aug. 28, 1963. A rally is planned on the National Mall for the anniversary, and President Obama is scheduled to speak on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial….READ MORE

Remembering Martin Luther King, Jr. on the 25th MLK Day

HISTORY FEATURES:

MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. DAY

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

IN FOCUS:

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IN FOCUS

  • Martin Luther King Jr., Jan. 15, 1929 to April 4, 1968: “Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land!” With these words, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. built a crescendo to his final speech on April 3, 1968. The next day, the civil rights leader was shot and killed on a balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tenn…. – NYT
  • Obama, nation commemorate Martin Luther King Jr. DayChicago Times-Union
  • The King Center: The official, living memorial dedicated to the advancement of the legacy of King. Founded by Coretta Scott King. – www.thekingcenter.org/
  • “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 the content of their character.
    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 straight and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.
    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 together at the table of brotherhood.”
  • “I just want to do God’s will. And he’s allowed me to go to the mountain. And I’ve looked over, and I’ve seen the promised land! I may not get there with you, but I want you to know tonight that we as a people will get to the promised land.”
  • “I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality… I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.”
  • “Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable… Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.”
  • “If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”
  • “As my sufferings mounted I soon realized that there were two ways in which I could respond to my situation — either to react with bitterness or seek to transform the suffering into a creative force. I decided to follow the latter course.”
  • “Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.”

THE HEADLINES….

Michelle Obama's 'Embarrassing' 47th Birthday Serenade

  • Obama Honors Martin Luther King Jr: U.S. President Barack Obama has honored slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. by taking part in a service project at a local school. Mr. Obama, his wife Michelle and their two children participated in a painting project Monday, the federal holiday that honors King. Members of the president’s Cabinet are attending memorial events and taking part in community service projects across the nation.
    At the school, President Obama said King’s dream was for equality and justice, as well as service to the country. The King Center in Atlanta caps more than a week of events Monday with commemorative ceremonies, volunteer activities and community programs…. – VOA, 1-17-11
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. Day at 25: The message remains powerful: That question is the backdrop as the United States on Monday marks the 25th federal observance of Martin Luther King Day (see below for a timeline). Illinois became the first state, in 1973, to sign into law a King holiday, thanks to representative, and future Chicago mayor, Harold Washington…. – THE SPRINGFIELD STATE JOURNAL-REGISTER, 1-15-11
  • Clarence B. Jones: On Martin Luther King Day, remembering the first draft of ‘I Have a Dream’: It was the late spring of 1963, and my friend Martin was exhausted. The campaign to integrate the public facilities in Birmingham had been successful but also tremendously taxing. In its aftermath, he wanted nothing more than to take Coretta and the children away for a vacation and forget – forget the looming book deadline, the office politics of his ever-growing Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the constant need to raise funds.
    But a date for the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom had been nailed down – Aug. 28 – and Martin realized he couldn’t plan such a massive undertaking with the usual endless interruptions. No, if this march were going to come together in time, he would have to escape all the distractions. (This was a man, after all, whose best writing was done inside a jail cell.) He needed to get away to a place where very few people could reach him…. – WaPo, 1-16-11
  • Martin Luther King Day: “I have a dream”: In his historic speech from the Lincoln Memorial on August 23, 1963, Martin Luther King called for racial equality and an end to discrimination.
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day: Why are you thankful?: On April 5, 1968, President Lyndon B. Johnson declared a day of national mourning, saying in part: “Men of all races, all religions, all regions must join together in this hour to deny violence its victory — and to fulfill the vision of brotherhood that gave purpose to Martin Luther King’s life and work. … In our churches, in our homes, and in our private hearts, let us resolve before God to stand against divisiveness in our country and all its consequences.”
    On Monday, for the 43rd year, the country will pause in remembrance of Martin Luther King Jr. This year will mark an even bigger tribute with the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, slated to open in August in Washington… – WaPo, 1-16-11
  • About a third of Americans say Obama’s presidency has improved race relations: Despite high public expectations that Barack Obama’s presidency would improve race relations in the country, barely more than a third of all Americans now say his tenure has made things better in this area, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll. Overall, 35 percent say Obama has helped race relations; down from 58 percent who, in January 2009, expected them to improve as a result of the country’s having its first black president. And blacks and whites continue to have starkly different assessments about how African Americans are faring in America today when it comes to the racial equality championed by Martin Luther King, Jr. WaPo, 1-17-11Full Story
  • For the Obamas, a Day of Service: President Obama took his family to a local middle school to participate in a painting project to help celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day, calling attention to service projects around the nation in honor of the slain civil rights leader. Mr. Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama and their daughters Malia and Sasha, went to Stuart Hobson Middle School in Washington where they met mentors and the young people they were helping with different projects. It is Mrs. Obama’s 47th birthday, and she was greeted with a lively rendition of “Happy Birthday.”
    “Michelle and I and the girls are extraordinarily proud that each year on Martin Luther King’s birthday this is how we celebrate is making sure we’re giving back to the community,” Mr. Obama said. Referring indirectly to the shootings in Tucson on Jan. 8, he said: “After a painful week where so many of us were focused on tragedy, it’s good for us to remind ourselves what this country is all about. This kind of service project is what’s best in us.” The Obamas helped paint apple characters in the cafeteria to encourage healthy eating…. – NYT, 1-17-11
  • President Barack Obama: “This is just an outstanding program, an example of what Martin Luther King’s birthday should be all about … Dr. King obviously had a dream of justice and equality in our society but he also had a dream of service, that you could be a drum major for service, that you could lead by giving back to our communities. That’s what this program is all about.” “Michelle and I and the girls are extraordinarily proud that each year on Martin Luther King’s birthday this is how we celebrate is making sure we’re giving back to the community.” –
  • On his day, Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy of peace lauded in wake of Arizona shootings: The nation observed the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday on Monday with thousands volunteering for service projects and more reflecting on his lessons of nonviolence and civility in the week following the shootings in Arizona.
    Six people were killed in Tucson and Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords is fighting for her life. The violent outburst was a reminder to many gathered at King’s former church in Atlanta that the Baptist preacher’s message remained relevant nearly four decades after his own untimely death at the hands of an assassin.
    Attorney General Eric Holder praised him as “our nation’s greatest drum major of peace” and said the Jan. 8 bloodshed was a call to recommit to King’s values of nonviolence, tolerance, compassion and justice. “Last week a senseless rampage in Tucson reminded us that more than 40 years after Dr. King’s own tragic death, our struggle to eradicate violence and to promote peace goes on,” Holder said.
    President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle volunteered to paint for a service project at a middle school in Washington’s Capitol Hill. He urged Americans to get out into their communities — a step he suggested would have special meaning following the shootings. “After a painful week where so many of us were focused on the tragedy, it’s good for us to remind ourselves of what this country is all about,” he said…. – Chicago Tribune, 1-17-11
  • Obama recalls MLK’s Challenge of a New Age in holiday sermon: President Barack Obama spent his Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service at the Vermont Avenue Baptist Church in Washington DC today…. Obama’s speech at Vermont Avenue Baptist ended four minutes shy of 30 minutes. He ended the sermon stating “it’s faith that gives me peace. The same faith that leads a single mother to work two jobs to put a roof over her head when she has doubts. The same faith that keeps an unemployed father to keep on submitting job applications even after he’s been rejected a hundred times. The same faith that says to a teacher even if the first nine children she’s teaching she can’t reach, that the 10th one she’s going to be able to reach.”
    He asked the congregation to “hold fast to that faith, as Joshua held fast to the faith of his fathers, and together, we shall overcome the challenges of a new age. Together we shall seize the promise of this moment. Together, we shall make a way through winter, and we’re going to welcome the spring. Through God all things are possible.”
    Obama exited in hopes that the “memory of Dr. Martin Luther King continue to inspire us and ennoble our world and all who inhabit it.”
    President Obama is the first Democratic president in contemporary memory to freely call upon God, faith and religion without reservation to party politics or liberal ideologies…. – HULIQ, 1-17-11
  • On holiday, Massachusetts honors Martin Luther King Jr.: Some 1,000 people honored Martin Luther King Jr. this morning at the city’s annual holiday breakfast in his name, remembering the slain civil rights leader as a transformative force for good and pledging to build upon his legacy.
    “He showed us the path,” said Martha Coakley, the state’s attorney general, who paid tribute to King as an inspiring figure who “fought for the dignity of every human being.”
    In a well-received speech at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, keynote speaker Melissa Harris-Perry drew parallels between today’s divisive political climate and 1967, the year of King’s final book “Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?”… – Boston Globe, 1-17-11
  • NY leaders gather to mark King day: New York’s civic leaders are gathering with the Rev. Al Sharpton to honor the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Gov. Andrew Cuomo are among those scheduled to participate in Sharpton’s annual event at held at his National Action Network headquarters in Harlem. There were several other city leaders slated to speak at the forum. Sharpton held a breakfast event earlier Monday in Washington…. – WSJ, 1-17-11
  • Obama attends church services in D.C. on Sunday: Metroplian AME was filled with people who are waiting to see the Obama family. “We have been waiting to see this for two years,” said one church member as he passed through a line of metal detectors. President Obama and the first family will join D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray to worship at the Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church in Northwest during a service that will reflect on the spiritual fervor of Martin Luther King Jr.
    Last year the president delivered a major address the Sunday before Martin Luther King Jr. Day at the Districts Vermont Avenue Baptist Church where King spoke when he was alive. White House sources say this year the president has chosen to sit quietly in the pews with members of the historic church and listen along with his family and other White House officials. The Rev. Ronald E. Braxton, pastor of the historic congregation founded in 1838, will deliver the sermon from a church designated as the “national cathedral” of the African Methodist Episcopal Church that has more than 7,000 churches and 3 million members around the world…. – WaPo, 1-16-11
  • For Some Students in the South, a King Day Lacking That ‘Holiday’ Feature: …By state law, the only holiday he cannot cancel is Veterans Day. His solution? Make children go to school on Monday, the day when most of the nation’s schools are closed to observe Martin Luther King’s Birthday.
    In the South, where establishing an official holiday for Dr. King was long in coming, that kind of move can be particularly controversial. But administrators in a handful of districts in Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina say they have no choice after this past week of unusually brutal ice and snow in the South put the district behind schedule.
    That is not going over well with some parents and politicians.
    “It always seems like Martin Luther King day is the first one they are willing to give up,” said Dot Scott, president of the Charleston branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
    The Rev. Jesse Jackson and the Rev. Al Sharpton have also weighed in. “We’re urging people to keep their kids home,” Mr. Sharpton said. “It’s un-American not to observe the holiday.”… – NYT, 1-14-11
  • Rochelle Riley: What would Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s ‘Dream’ be today?: His life has become part of our history texts — the Baptist minister who led the 1955 bus boycott in Montgomery, Ala., who four years before his death became the youngest person to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, the man who gave the Speech. For this year’s celebration of King’s dream, I interviewed metro Detroiters about King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, which he delivered in Detroit and then in Washington, D.C., in the summer of 1963….
    As America debates what hate speech can ignite and whether vicious political rhetoric can be a match, I wonder whether one who dared to dream now might be drowned out by a million YouTube dismissals or the catcalls of boorish ideologues who see only the America they want? Had King lived to be 82, what would he write now? What would you say if you were giving the Speech?… – Detroit FREEP, 1-15-11
  • Taking to roads to find Martin Luther King’s legacy: It started as a series of high school road trips, chances to venture out of the District with the loose intention of picking apart a well-worn Chris Rock joke about the violence on streets named after the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
    Eight teenagers from five D.C. high schools criss-crossed the country with two mentors and video cameras, visiting more than a dozen “MLK streets.” Their driving tours in 2008 coincided with the presidential campaign of Barack Obama, putting the students between a history they barely knew and history in the making.
    The documentary they produced is still in rough cut, though it was aired at Anacostia Library as a run-up to the Martin Luther King holiday. But the images they now carry with them, they said, have reshaped how they think about themselves and their world…. – WaPo, 1-17-11
  • CPS students honor King by lending a helping hand: Chicago Public Schools students and faculty volunteered today to honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with a day of service.
    Students from Bogan High School filled bag after bag with food in the basement of Epiphany Catholic Church in Little Village, helping the regular volunteers prepare for a Monday food pantry.
    “It’s good to give the kids an opportunity to help out and do something good for the community,” said Rozella Garrett, who has volunteered with the food pantry every Monday for 40 years. “They’re a great help.”… – Chicago Tribune, 1-17-11
  • King Day presents opportunity for celebration, teaching Educators, historians discuss challenges of teaching his life, legacy: All of the elements were in place at Leith Walk Elementary School for a proper Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday celebration. Students at the Northeast Baltimore school were prepped with songs from the civil rights movement; Stevie Wonder’s “Happy Birthday” was on deck. They’d completed assignments detailing their own dreams earlier in the week and listened in awe as Tony Marshall, who works for the school system, recited the “I Have a Dream” speech, excerpts from the work that he had learned decades earlier as a fourth-grader at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School.
    For many schoolchildren, this kind of celebration has been a hallmark of King Day ever since the holiday, which is marked around the nation today, was established 25 years ago. But some experts and educators say that students need to know more about King’s life and legacy to place him in historical context. “There was a long legacy of heroes and ‘she-roes’ that led to Dr. King,” said Raymond A. Winbush, director of the Institute of Urban Research at Morgan State University. “As educators, we’ve got to contextualize Dr. King in the struggle for human rights, and we just don’t do that.”… – Baltimore Sun, 1-16-11
  • Dr. King and New York City: The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is identified mostly with Washington and the South, but he was officially an honorary New Yorker and the city plays a not insignificant role in his biography. In 1958, 10 years before he was assassinated in Memphis, Dr. King was autographing copies of his book, “Stride Toward Freedom,” in a Harlem department store when a deranged women stabbed him with a letter opener. He was taken to Harlem Hospital for surgery.
    In the summer of 1964, after the shooting of a 15-year-old by an off-duty police officer touched off riots in Harlem, Mayor Robert F. Wagner invited Dr. King to New York on a peace mission (one made slightly more complicated by the fact that some black leaders resented that the mayor had invited Dr. King without consulting them). Later that year, one week after he accepted the Nobel Peace Prize in Norway, Dr. King was proclaimed an honorary New Yorker by the mayor who presented him with the Medallion of Honor at City Hall…. – NYT, 1-16-11
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day shares holiday with Gen. Robert E. Lee Day: In Arkansas, it’s not only Martin Luther King Jr. Day, it’s also the state holiday Gen. Robert E. Lee Day. That’s causing some heated discussion. Lee was a commander in the confederate army. His birthday is Wednesday. State lawmakers voted to make it a legal holiday back in 1947. On the State of Arkansas Facebook page, they wished everyone a happy holiday for both holidays and it spawned several comments both negative and positive. Alabama and Mississippi have the duel holiday as well…. – Todays THV AK, 1-17-11

QUOTES

President Barack Obama Helps Paint Pictures of Fruit During a Service Project on Martin Luther King Day

  • “An Example of What Martin Luther King’s Birthday Should Be All About”: THE PRESIDENT: This is just an outstanding program, an example of what Martin Luther King’s birthday should be all about. I want to thank all the mentees and mentors who are participating.
    Dr. King obviously had a dream of justice and equality in our society, but he also had a dream of service, that you could be a drum major for service, that you could lead by giving back to our communities. And that’s what this program is all about and that’s what these participants are all about.
    Michelle and I the girls are extraordinarily proud that each year on Martin Luther King’s birthday this is how we celebrate, is making sure that we’re giving a little something back to the community. And I hope that all the projects that are taking place all across the country on this day are getting similar attention, because this is part of what America is all about. And after a painful week where so many of us were focused on tragedy, it’s good for us to remind ourselves what this country is all about. This kind of service project is what’s best in us and we’re thrilled with everybody who is participating. – WH, 1-17-11
  • Honoring Dr. Martin Luther King’s Life and Legacy: Secretary Salazar reports on the progress underway at the memorial being constructed on the National Mall in Dr. Martin Luther King’s honor…. – WH, 1-17-11
  • John McCain: Commemorating Martin Luther King Jr.’s life and legacy today. He was a true American hero who stood up to adversity and will continue to impact our country for generations to come.
  • Sarah Palin: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
    Today is a day to reflect on the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr. King dedicated himself to justice and the struggles of an imperfect world. In the face of fierce opposition, he stood up for the oppressed, and he ultimately sacrificed all for equality and freedom. His was a remarkable life of love and service for all mankind. His work must continue.
    With Dr. King’s faith in God and his unwavering hope in a brighter, stronger future, let us recommit today to continuing his work for a more peaceful and just nation…. – Fox News, 1-17-11
  • Giffords’ husband urges volunteer service: The husband of Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords is urging Americans to volunteer in their communities on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. “Many of you have asked how you can help and how you can honor the memory of those who were wounded or lost their lives. What united the victims of the tragedy on Saturday was service – they volunteered in church or at soup kitchens, worked in government, and tended to their communities. On behalf of Gabby and our family, I ask that you consider honoring their commitment to service by dedicating a few hours on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, this Monday, January 17th, to volunteer in your community,” Mark Kelly said in a statement distributed by the Giffords for Congress campaign.
    Kelly also said in the statement that “The prayers and good wishes from the people of Southern Arizona and the country are deeply appreciated by our family. Your continued outpouring of support is powerful. As Gabby continues her recovery, I know she will be inspired and motivated by the heartfelt messages you have sent. Keep sending them.” – JTA, 1-16-11

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

  • Dana Goldstein: American schools more segregated today than when Martin Luther King Jr. was killed: American schools are more segregated by race and class today than they were on the day Martin Luther King, Jr. was killed, 43 years ago. The average white child in America attends a school that is 77 percent white, and where just 32 percent of the student body lives in poverty. The average black child attends a school that is 59 percent poor but only 29 percent white. The typical Latino kid is similarly segregated; his school is 57 percent poor and 27 percent white.
    Overall, a third of all black and Latino children sit every day in classrooms that are 90 to 100 percent black and Latino…. – WaPo, 1-17-11
  • Imani Perry, an African-American studies professor at Princeton University: Nation ponders King in wake of Arizona shootings: “Dr. King’s message was about inclusion and the recognition of human dignity, of human rights and making sure that all of our voices are heard,” said Imani Perry, an African-American studies professor at Princeton University. “I hope people in Arizona, in particular, embrace that part of his message. The politics in Arizona recently have often seemed to revolve around excluding people.” – WaPo, 1-16-11
  • Morgan State University professor Jared Ball: Nation ponders King in wake of Arizona shootings: “So little of his real politics show up in these annual commemorations,” said Morgan State University professor Jared Ball. “Instead of actually reading what he wrote or listening to what he said, we pick catchphrases and throw his name around. We all feel for the tragic incident that took place in Arizona, but this is happening to people all over the world every day in one form or another.” – WaPo, 1-16-11
  • Rice University history professor Douglas Brinkley: Nation ponders King in wake of Arizona shootings: A national remembrance of the civil rights icon is an opportunity for the country to renew its commitment to King’s cause. Absent that, it’s unclear how his legacy would be remembered, said Rice University history professor Douglas Brinkley. “The holiday brought the freedom struggle into the main narrative,” Brinkley said. “The day is meant to be a moment of reflection against racism, poverty and war. It’s not just an African-American holiday. The idea of that day is to try to understand the experience of people who had to overcome racism but in the end are part and parcel of the American quilt.” “The struggle that the holiday itself has is to not just be a day off,” Brinkley said. “We have trouble with that. We have to constantly be vigilant not to let that happen.” – WaPo, 1-16-11
  • Martin Luther King’s legacy will be celebrated at forum: Martin Luther King Jr. will be celebrated at the annual “With Liberty and Justice for All” symposium Monday at 10 a.m. in Anderson Theatre, inside The Henry Ford. This year’s program will feature professor Martha S. Jones, a legal scholar and University of Michigan historian. Following her presentation will be a dramatic reading of an excerpt from the well-known 1978 Howard University address by Thurgood Marshall, who became the first African-American member of the U.S. Supreme Court, and a panel discussion with high school students from throughout Metro Detroit. This event is free; however, reservations are required. The Henry Ford is at 20900 Oakwood Blvd., Dearborn. For more information, call (313) 982-6001 or to reserve a seat, visit thehenryford.org. – The Detroit News, 1-16-11

On This Day in History… August 28, 1963, Martin Luther King Jr gives his “I Have a Dream” Speech

On this day in history… August 28, 1963, Martin Luther King Jr gives his “I have a dream speech” at the Lincoln Memorial….

Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. delivering his I have a dream speech

Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. delivering his “I have a dream” speech

Martin Luther King’s Speech: ‘I Have a Dream’ – The Full Text

PHOTO: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech on this day on Aug. 28, 1963 at the Lincoln Memorial for the March on Washington, Washington, DC.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech on this day on Aug. 28, 1963 at the Lincoln Memorial for the March on Washington, Washington, DC. (Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
By MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.
Aug. 28, 1963

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 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.”

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