MLK’s Dream of America is one of the stars of the 60th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington
Washington (AP) – The last part of the speech It takes less time to deliver it than it does to boil an egg, however “i have a dream” is one of the most famous and inspiring speeches in American history.
On August 28, 1963, at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, Martin Luther King Jr. began speaking about poverty, segregation, discrimination, and how the United States had reneged on its promise of equality for black Americans. If anyone remembers that miserable beginning, they won’t talk about it.
What is etched in the people’s memory is the pastoral flourish that marked the last five minutes and offered a lofty vision of what a nation could be and the freedom that equality could bring to all.
like Participants prepare to celebrate the 60th anniversary affiliate March on Washington for Jobs and FreedomThat five-minute piece of King’s 16-minute speech is the star of the day and today the barometer of the country’s progress.
How did that memorable moment come about? Were there other speakers?
King was one of several prominent figures who spoke to the tens of thousands who gathered on the National Mall that summer’s day. Among the others are a. Philip Randolph, director of the rally and founder of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters; Roy Wilkins, Executive Secretary of the NAACP; Walter Reuther, President of the Auto Workers Union; and John Lewis, 23, who led the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and later became a longtime congressman.
There were memorable moments before King spoke.
Eleanor Holmes Norton, now a veteran non-voting District of Columbia delegate to Congress, was a SNCC member who helped organize the rally. She recalls that the march leaders had Lewis tone down his scheduled speech out of concern that it was too flamboyant. “He had statements about, say, Sherman’s march through Georgia,” Norton said, referring to Union General William Tecumseh Sherman’s burning of most of Atlanta during the Civil War. “So we had to work with the march leaders to change a little bit of that rhetoric.”
She said King did not have a microphone counterpart, admitting that she now does not remember what the others said. “I’m afraid Martin Luther King’s speech overshadowed everything. It was so eloquent that it sort of surpassed any other speech.
Did King give the speech non-stop?
It was the first two-thirds of the written text. The actual speech he used is now on loan at the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., in the museum’s “Defending Liberty Defining Liberty” exhibit, and shows where the text was broken.
King’s lieutenant Andrew Young said in an interview that he had worked with King on the script and it was “none of the things we remember about his speech”. They only gave him nine minutes, and he was trying to write a nine-minute letter.”
King biographer Jonathan Egg said that King reached the end of his written notes and kept moving forward because “he was Martin Luther King” and “it was time to do what he liked to do best, which was to give a sermon”.
Has King ever talked about a dream?
Although he set the text aside, his deviation was not improvisational in the true sense of the word.
Eight months before the March on Washington, King submitted a manifesto Address in Rocky Mount, North Carolinawith similar themes, including dreaming.
In June 1963, King delivered his speech in Detroit and opened his speech with the same recognition of Abraham Lincoln and the Emancipation Proclamation before suggesting that 100 years later, blacks in the United States were not free. He spoke about the circumstances and sense of urgency, but then moved on to what he said was “a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.”
The speech reflects on the points he will make two months later.
Although King used this theme on several occasions, he always made it sound fresh. “That’s just the way it worked,” said Keith Miller, a professor at Arizona State who has studied and written extensively about King’s speeches and speeches.
Legend has it that famous gospel singer Mahalia Jackson prompted King to add this ?
Whether Jackson was the catalyst or encouraged him after he started, King had no intention at first of talking about a dream. “Tell them about the dream, Martin,” said Jackson. Whatever the close sequence, the two are now intertwined at that moment.
Young said the speech “wasn’t going very well, but everyone was listening politely. But then Mahalia Jackson said, ‘Tell them about Martin’s dream’ and he must have heard it or was in any way in the spirit of it and off he went.”
King’s daughter-in-law, Arendrea Waters King, said Jackson’s proposal was the moment “he just took off and really started to achieve what most people remember when they remember a dream, if nothing else”.
Egg, the author of “King: A Life,” said he listened to the master tape prepared by Motown and apparently pushed King about dreaming, “but that’s only after he’s already started the dream part of the speech.” Norton, who was nearby and overheard Jackson, agrees that this is the sequence.
How significant was the march towards steps towards equality in the 1960s?
Norton said the diversity, size of the crowds, and energy were the main drivers of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, as well as the Fair Housing Act. “It was very difficult for Congress to ignore the 250,000 people who come from all over the country, from every member district.”
In some ways, the impact has been immediate, said Aaron Bryant, curator of photography, visual culture, and contemporary history at the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
“After the March on Washington, some of the organizers, some of the leaders of the march were actually meeting with (President) John F. Kennedy and (Vice President) Lyndon Johnson, to talk more strategically about legislation. So it wasn’t just a dream. “It was about having a plan and then putting that plan into action,” Bryant said.
Tragedies and atrocities fueled those plans, historians and other notables of the time said. These include the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, which killed four girls two weeks after the rally; the killing of three civil rights workers in Neshoba County, Mississippi, in 1964; and the televised beating of civil rights activists on Bloody Sunday in Selma, Alabama, in March 1965.
Why focus on the last five minutes?
Egg believes that the focus on hope rather than the harsh reality of today and the lack of progress is due in part to the predominantly white media choosing the inspirational part of the speech over King’s call for accountability.
This focus, Egg said, had “damaged King” and his overarching message, because “we forgot the hard part of that speech where he said there wasn’t enough money in this nation’s coffers of opportunity.”
Did the dream come true?
The answer to that may vary across generations, Bryant said, but democracy “will always be a work in progress. I especially think that ideas of citizenship and democracy and definitions among different groups change over time.”
Bryant said the history shows the progress that followed the march. “The question is how do we compare who we were then to what we are now?”
In the eyes of King’s eldest son, Martin Luther King III, “Many of us, and I am certainly one of them, thought we’d get even further.” He pointed to today’s rewriting of history and the increase in public hatred and animosity, often driven by political leaders.
“There was civility. You can disagree without being disagreeable,” he said.
This article originally appeared on apnews.com