The day was August 28, 1963, the place was Washington, D.C., the speech was “I Have a Dream”, and the man was none other than the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
However, what people may not know is that two months ago, a civil rights march took place along Woodward Avenue in Detroit, Michigan the same as in June 1963. Over 125,000 demonstrators were there for the dress rehearsal, in which Dr. King gave an earlier and more elaborate version of his renowned “I Have a Dream” speech.
Considered as one of the greatest and unforgettable speeches in American history, King’s “I Have a Dream” was named in a 1999 poll of scholars of public address as the top speech of the 20th century.
While some called him as “a wimpy leader” for it, most believed that he was more than both an idealist and a dreamer. “Dr. King”, said John Lewis in 2003, “had the power, the ability and the capacity to transform those steps on the Lincoln Memorial into a modern day pulpit.”
Lewis, a U.S. Congressman, spoke on that day as the President of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee. “By speaking the way he did”, he continues, “he educated, he inspired, he informed not just the people there, but people throughout America and unborn generations.”
In the height of the speech, King was named by TIME Magazine as “Man of the Year” in 1963, and became the youngest person ever the next year to win the Nobel Peace Prize. The legacy of “I Have a Dream” has continue, as Barack Obama is set to become the first African-American to accept the Presidential nomination of an prominent political party at this year’s Democratic National Convention.
The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was both a man and servant of God – using his power and influence to bring black and white people together in the process of making two worlds into one. His weapons were nonviolence, racial equality, civil rights, social justice, and his faith in both God and humanity. Dr. King was someone dedicated to spread love, harmony, tolerance, and equality in a world that is full of hostility and hate – a world that fears because it doesn’t understand. His legacy still lives as a prophet, an ambassador, a revolutionary, and a visionary: fighting for the rights – and humanity – of every man, woman, and child of all ages … and all races:
“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, 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!'”