On this day as we honor Dr. Martin Luther King, I reflect.
Yes, progress has been made, but there is so much more work to do as we live in a world where prejudices remain vibrant.
We must continue our strides to respect people as God created all mankind to be equal.
Today, on the only national holiday that honors a Black man, let’s stroll back in history to 1963. Let’s hear his dream!
Before an audience of over 250,000 people from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King delivered his famous “I have a dream” speech which was unequivocally one of the most defining moments of the Civil Rights Movement.
“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 mole hill of Mississippi. “From every mountainside, let freedom ring.”
And when this happens, and 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.”
Photo reprint: www.teachingamericanhistory.org (Excerpts from Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech, August 28, 1963, March on Washington). ”
Though lengthy, the below information provides some interesting and historical facts about Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.
Marian Anderson was scheduled to lead the National Anthem but was unable to arrive on time; Camilla Williams performed in her place. Following an invocation by Archbishop Patrick O’Boyle, the opening remarks were given by march director A. Philip Randolph, followed by Eugene Carson Blake. A tribute to “Negro Women Fighters for Freedom” was then led by Bayard Rustin, at which Daisy Bates spoke briefly in place of Myrlie Evers, who had missed her flight. The tribute introduced Daisy Bates, Diane Nash, Prince E. Lee, Rosa Parks, and Gloria Richardson. The following speakers were SNCC chairman John Lewis, labor leader Walter Reuther and CORE chairman Floyd McKissick(substituting for arrested CORE director James Farmer). The Eva Jessye Choir then sang, and Rabbi Uri Miller (president of the Synagogue Council of America) offered a prayer, followed by National Urban League director Whitney Young, NCCIJ director Mathew Ahmann, and NAACP leader Roy Wilkins. After a performance by singer Mahalia Jackson, American Jewish Congress president Joachim Prinz spoke, followed by SCLC president Martin Luther King, Jr. Rustin then read the march’s official demands for the crowd’s approval, and Randolph led the crowd in a pledge to continue working for the march’s goals. The program was closed with a benediction by Morehouse College president Benjamin Mays.
The focus on “I have a dream” comes through the speech’s delivery. Toward the end of its delivery, noted African American gospel singer Mahalia Jackson shouted to King from the crowd, “Tell them about the dream, Martin.”[ King stopped delivering his prepared speech, and started “preaching”, punctuating his points with “I have a dream.”
Gospel legend Mahalia Jackson sang “How I Got Over”, and Marian Anderson sang “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands”. Joan Baez led the crowds in several verses of “We Shall Overcome” and “Oh Freedom”. Musician Bob Dylan performed “When the Ship Comes In”, for which he was joined by Baez. Dylan also performed “Only a Pawn in Their Game.”Peter, Paul and Mary sang “If I Had a Hammer” and Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind”. Odetta sang “I’m On My Way.”
1. The event was officially titled the “March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.”
2. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech at the Lincoln Memorial.
3. The march was organized by the “Big Six” leaders of the civil rights movement: A. Philip Randolph, Whitney M. Young, Jr., Martin Luther King, Jr., James Farmer, Roy Wilkins, and John Lewis. Bayard Rustin was chief organizer of the march.
4. Between 200,000 and 250,000 Americans, mostly African-Americans, but including thousands of whites, held the march in order to focus attention on blacks’ demands for immediate equality in jobs and civil rights.
5. The marchers were entertained by celebrities, including Ossie Davis, Joan Baez, Bobby Darin, Odetta, Bob Dylan, Peter, Paul and Mary, and Jackie Robinson. Other celebrities who were present included actors Marlon Brando, Charlton Heston, Harry Belafonte,Burt Lancaster, Paul Newman, Diahann Carroll, Lena Horne, Sidney Poitier, Sammy Davis, Jr., and writer James Baldwin.
6. Law enforcement included 5,000 police, National Guardsmen and Army reservists. No marchers were arrested and no incidents concerning marchers were reported.
7. Ten leaders of the civil rights march met with President John F. Kennedy, Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson, Labor Secretary W. Willard Wirtz, and Burke Marshall, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, in the cabinet room of the White House during the demonstration.
8. The leaders were:
-A. Philip Randolph, director of the march
-Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference
-Roy Wilkins, executive secretary of the NAACP
-Whitney M. Young Jr., executive director of the National Urban League
-Walter P. Reuther, president of the AFL-CIO United Automobile Workers
-Reverend Eugene Carson Blake, Stated Clerk of the United Presbyterian Church in U.S.A. and a representative of the National Council of Churches
-Rabbi Joachim Prinz, chairman of the American Jewish Congress
-John Lewis, chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee
-Matthew Ahmann, executive director of the National Catholic Conference for Interracial Justice
-Floyd B. McKissick, national chairman of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE).
Original copy of the speech
As King waved goodbye to the audience, he handed George Raveling the original typewritten “I Have a Dream” speech. Raveling, an all-American basketball player from Villanova, had volunteered as a security guard for the event and was on the podium with King at that moment. Raveling still has custody of the original copy and has been offered as high as $3,000,000 for it, but claims to have no intention of selling it, with plans on leaving it to his children instead.
Source: www.en.m.wikipedia.org; www.cnn.com