Tomorrow is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in America tomorrow. If you are in the Los Angeles area, I highly recommend attending one of Southern California’s largest celebrations of Dr. King at the World Peace Ikeda Auditorium at 9am tomorrow. The auditorium is located at 525 Wilshire Blvd. in Santa Monica. Yolanda King (Dr. King’s eldest daughter) will be speaking.
It’s been some time since I have read the famous "I Have A Dream Speech," so I decided to find the text and read it again (you can also download and listen). I recommend you do the same. It couldn’t be more relevant today.
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 one hundred 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 an exile in his own land. And so we’ve 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
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. And 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 lift our nation from the quicksands of
racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. 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.
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. And 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. And
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
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
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. And 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 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
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.
And some of you have come from areas where your quest — 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.
And 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 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."
This is our hope, and 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.
And 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.
And 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 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 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 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!