Sandy Hook

Sandy Hook

Friday, January 15, 2010

Martin Luther King: Tribute to an American Patriot

Whether preaching, marching, singing, being arrested or praying, Martin Luther King was an imposing figure. He could calm our fears and lift out spirits, whether we were 10 feet or 1000 miles away. He gave us strength in the face of overwhelming adversity.

Today is the day we have chosen to celebrate Martin Luther King's birthday and his life. We've all heard, or should have heard, his "I Have a Dream" speech countless times. I thought it was without doubt the most historically significant and the most profound speech I have ever heard. I was deeply moved at the time and I'm equally moved when I hear it now.

President Obama's speech on election night and the one on Inauguration day were equally moving and profound. Since God seems to be speaking to just about everyone these days, I wonder if he's pointed out that the two greatest orators in our country in over 50 years have been black.

A total of Forty-one people died in the battle for equality and justice for all people.

If it hadn't been for Dr. King and so many other extraordinarily courageous people, black and white - including little children - who braved dogs, fire hoses, jails, beatings, hangings and bombings, we would not have a black president today.

In August 1963, more than 30 chartered trains and over 2,000 freedom buses were used to carry people to the nation's capital. Along with private transportation, over 250,000 people gathered for the March on Washington.

To read Dr. King's ending remarks is as powerful as listening to the video, which follows.

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 the 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 racists, 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, and 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."


  1. One of the great speeches in the English language, other great American speeches, Lincoln's Gettysburg Address and FDRs "The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself," not forgetting Kennedy's "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country." Great orators all. The power of their words linger, even grows.

  2. Without a great leader nothing happens. And if the great leader is also a great orator he can move mountains. Martin Luther King proved that.

    Unfortunately, although we have come far in social justice we still have a long way to go.

  3. Holte: Certainly these speeches by Lincoln, FDR and Kennedy were moving and historically significant, especially given the times in which they were delivered. I watched Kennedy's inauguration address and was swept up by it to a level I'd never experienced before. But I didn't feel the same overwhelming emotion or shed tears as I did with King's address - or as I still do. I suspect that is was/is because I was active in the Civil Rights movement and so close to the "pulse," if you will.

    Annette: We have a great leader now who is a phenomenal orator and who is mocked by the more ignorant segments of our society. Interestingly, these people can't write or speak grammatically.

    Thanks for your comments. I do enjoy the input.

  4. Sure wish we could edit comments after posting them. That should read "I suspect that "it" was/is . . ."

  5. You must have been thinking of

    I agree with you in that MLK's speech was very moving and very profound. One of his best ever I believe and he gave some very good ones.

    Like you I was and am moved by most of his and of Pres. Obama's speeches. It just seems he touches my heart and speaks to each of us in a way others don't.

  6. Like Gandhi, MLK was convinced non-violence was the way to best present his cause.
    As authorities were beating protesters, the country saw no violent response from the movement.
    The violent oppression from the State was obviously uncalled for. The American people could not allow such violent oppression to stand.
    The injustice practiced by the government against blacks, was documented History, but MLK was committed taking the cause beyond the courtroom, to the American people.
    He understood that a change in the attitude of the American people was needed, not just laws that had to be adhered to.
    The law was SLOWLY being changed. MLK was out to change the American people's racist thinking and behavior.
    It's hearts and minds. The law might change minds, the unjust, gruesome violence would change hearts.
    I still believe it was the non-violent stance of the movement, that helped change hearts. I made the unjust violence of the State look that much worse.
    If the movement had responded with violence like the Black Panthers, the movement would have died like the Black Panther group did.

  7. Annette: I think the man was an American hero. I've read a couple of excellent biographies and he never ceases to amaze me. His influence on the civil rights movement was immeasurable.

    Today the Wash. Post carried this idiotic analysis of how many times Obama uses "let me be clear" - two entire pages no less. I left a very sarcastic response thanking them for this important piece of information, that I couldn't go through another day without knowing it. I said I would be sure to put it on my blog as an example of how petty and shallow the MSM had become.

  8. TOM: The non-violence approach was instrumental in getting support from the American public, but TV played a pivotal role as well. If the public had merely read about the hosing, I don't think it would have impacted on them as much as actually seeing it on the TV. But that was back in the days when the media had courage and integrity.

    When King was murdered, I had lots of black friends at the university. I walked into an impromptu mourning assembly and quickly noticed that my once close friends moved away from me and wouldn't look me in the eyes. Mickey Leland, the future Texas congressman who was later killed in a plane crash in Ethiopia, was one of them. I was heartbroken but I "tried" to understand. In time, they got over it but not before "Black Power" became the rallying cry.

    Not only did non-violence have more dignity it required more courage.

  9. I really don't live in the past, I promise. It's just that one thought leads to another.

  10. Beautiful tribute to an American, so courageous, so full of hope. Martin Luther King, may he rest in peace.