Tomorrow is the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington in which the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his magnificent “I Have a Dream” speech – one of most inspiring and important speeches in history. In anticipation, I just read the full text of the speech again, and link to it here.
There are some lines that we have heard over and again, and which we need to hear over and again. But there are a few others which surprised me, which I do not recall knowing about before. They remind me of the essence of that to which I aspire – to name injustice where you see it, to make overt that which you perceive, but to do so with elegance and dignity and discipline — and yes, with nonviolence.
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.”
…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.
… 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 soul force.
And now, another 50 years later, we see that we certainly have a long way to go to achieve justice and equality. But I am still hopeful that we shall overcome, that Dr. King’s dream — our dream — shall be realized.
Let us treat ourselves, and each other creatively, peacefully, mindfully, and with patience, intention and dignity.