There is no human heart that does not resonate with the hope that was so gloriously splashed out on the broad canvas as in Rev. Martin Luther King’s speech “I have a dream!”
# I Have a Dream
Those were words that were not in the original script; but towards the end of the speech, King realizing that the moment was now just let go the pent up emotions in that phrase “I have a dream” which has since then found a firm footing in the hearts and minds of millions who thirst for freedom worldwide.
The spontaneity with which King improvised setting aside the pre-written speech was inspired by the occasion where 2, 50, 000 people had gathered at Lincoln Memorial, Washington on 28th August 1963.
# Prophetic Voices as the Basis of the Dream
Towards the climatic end of the speech, Rev. Martin Luther King, a Minister (Pastor) of a Baptist church, took on a prophet’s role as he with great faith and belief quoted from Prophets Amos and Isaiah in the Bible saying that they will not be satisfied till justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream1:
“And I have a dream today. I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.”2
# The Hope of the Dream
It was a dream that would not yield to the difficulties and frustrations of the present moment but look forward with hope to a better tomorrow.
It was a dream that trusted in the genuineness of the conduct of one’s character and refused to be side-lined because of the colour of one’s skin.
It was a dream that was ready to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope; an expectation of a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.
It was a dream of transformation when he hoped that a situation where little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls and walk together as sisters and brothers will arise.
It was dream of a symphony of togetherness; a faith that people will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that they will be free one day.
It was a dream that one day true freedom will ring out from all corners and every mountainside from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city; a day when all of God’s children will be able to join hands and sing with a new meaning in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”
# The Legacy of the Dream
The dream of Martin Luther King lives on. Though the rise of evil threatens the peaceful co-existence of mankind; love, faith, truth and hope shall conquer one day.
King’s speech is also a challenge to each one of us to have dreams larger than selfish personal goals and accomplishments.
It inspires us to be true to our convictions and to think and dream big. When we do so its impact will be for generations to come and blessings shall flow in ever-widening streams whose influence will touch more than we have ever dreamed of.
Comment: In the Penguin edtion of 20th century speeches,
the editor wrote about Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech
“Now, standing before the marchers, King rose to the drama of the occasion, and delivered one of the most memorable speeches of the century. No public figure of his generation could match the skill with which he made a mastery of the spoken word the servant of his cause.”