It was a riveting and thought-provoking speech, one that defined Martin Luther King as a charismatic and compassionate man.
Addressing approximately 250,000 people at what has become known as the March on Washington on Aug. 28, 1963, King opened his speech with mention of Abraham Lincoln, “a great American in whose symbolic shadow we stand today.”
Still reading from his original speech, King continues, “America has given the Negro people a bad check,” a check, he added, that has been marked insufficient funds.
King then pauses, as described by many who were in attendance that day, ignores his notes, and then uttered, “I say to you my friends, 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. It is a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the meaning of its creed: we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”
Although King used the “I have a dream” phrase a week earlier while giving a speech in Chicago, it was the “I have a dream” speech, given from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, that people remember.
“I have dream,” King reiterated over and over.
When Luther died at the hand of an assassin on the balcony of the Lorraine Hotel on March 29, 1968, in Memphis, I believe the true essence of that dream died with him.
Our country, sadly enough, has a long and despicable history of oppressing people.
Christopher Columbus comes quickly to mind. On Oct. 14, 1492, two days after Columbus encountered the native people of the Americas, he wrote in his journal that “with 50 men they can all be subjugated and made to do what is required of them.” After his second voyage, Columbus sent back a consignment of natives to become slaves.