Friday, January 23, 2009

A dream fulfilled

Who among us could not be inspired and moved by the speech that Martin Luther King Jr. delivered on August 28th on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial during the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom? What became known as the “I have a dream” speech. The essence of which was:

“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.”

Notice that Dr. King’s dream was not for himself or those of his generation, but rather for his children and those of their generation. Children like Barack Obama who was but two years old at the time of this historic speech. Barack Obama’s election as America’s 44th President truly represents a dream fulfilled for Dr Martin Luther King, since Obama’s election success was unequivocally based on the content of his character and not the color of his skin. A character incidentally, that has the potential to benefit all mankind.

Serendipity had a role to play in the speech that Martin Luther King Jr. delivered that day. According to Clarence B. Jones, Martin Luther King’s fellow speechwriter, the portion of the speech that dealt with King’s dream was not part of the original prepared text, but rather was prompted by Mahalia Jackson's cry, as King neared the end of his prepared text when she called out, "Tell them about the dream, Martin!"

At that point, a speech that had been about economic justice and about jobs, became a speech about social justice, as framed by the soaring rhetoric of Dr. King’s larger dream. Dr. King began his extemporaneous comments by ad-libbing portions of a speech that he had delivered to a much smaller crowd in Detroit in June of that same year, punctuating his points with the famous "I have a dream.", by which the speech went on to become famously known.

Dr. King's speech also went on to be named in a 1999 poll of scholars of public addresses, as the top American public address of the 20th century. Even more significant than that, is the fact that Dr. King’s dream was a dream that was ultimately fulfilled, by the events of 2008.... and the content of Barack Obama's character

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