Tag Archives: Martin Luther King Jr.

Revisiting One of the Greatest Speeches of the 20th Century.”I Have A Dream” by Martin Luther King, Jr.

For this 53rd anniversary of what has been deemed one of the greatest speeches of the 20th century, the historic speech “I Have a Dream” by Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.

www.writerssecrts.com proudly presents a revisiting of that speech with words of what might have been Martin Luther King’s if he had been alive to speak to the people today.

Excerpts from the book

ebook cover Martin Luther King“We Are Not Afraid”  Revisiting the Life and Work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

by Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Available at: http://amzn.to/2iz28fz

Tune in to a special reading by the Author Dr. Jeffrey Lant and read along with the text below.

Author’s Program Note

Good day, my fellow Americans and my fellow citizens of
Planet Earth. We have gathered today to hear one of the
greatest orators in the history of our species. He has let it
be known that he has something of epochal importance
to impart…. and we have gathered in our billions to hear it.

I do not overstate the case when I say “billions”, for Dr. King’s
audience today is composed of more people than any other
event in human history. Why so many? They know this man…
They respect his vision… He has helped them before, and they
feel certain he will help them again, touching their hearts, changing
their lives, soothing their troubled spirits.

“I Have A Dream”

The last time he called us together was August 28th, 1963, for what
came to be known as the “I Have A Dream” Speech. He reminded us
that without dreams there can be no progress and without progress the
people suffer and die, tragic evidence of our undeniable culpability.

That was a great day for dreamers and visionaries across the globe;
a day when light replaced darkness for so many and millions felt
hope for the first time in their challenged and overburdened lives;
blessed at last by “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness”; mere
words no longer but active possibilities to be used and enjoyed.

“Sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation.”

Consider the man and his titanic mission. An entire race danced noxious
attendance upon an anxious majority of the population; the one determined
to preserve its superior position; the other oppressed and fearful they would
make even some trivial error against the baleful Jim Crow system of profound
segregation, thereby calling upon them their “betters” certain and severest
retribution.

Trust between the races was non-existent; cooperation unknown; amity
as fleeting as a frosty smile that didn’t last. The richest soil of the nation
produced only a bumper crop of fear, hatred, and the “strange fruit” of
premature death and hideous disfiguration, no one safe, black or white,
north or south, day or night, no matter how acquiescent or careful.

Let us now consider this man and the responsibility he shouldered, always
at terrible risk. He was in the prime of his productive life when he heard and
took to heart the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! Free at last!
Thank God Almighty, we are free at last.”

He has come here today to bring freedom to us all, freedom and joy.

Part 1 Dr. Lant introduces the program and comments on the action.

Good-Day, World. Welcome to the WritersSecrets Sky Box high above the
stern, majestic Lincoln Memorial, scene of so many historic moments in the
life of our Great Republic, including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s iconic
1963 “I Have A Dream” speech.

We have gathered here and around our tumultuous globe to hear a revered
and venerable man of God help us at a time of earthly crisis and unparalleled
challenge. The program begins with the greatest of Martin Luther’s hymns, “A Mighty
Fortress Is Our God”, written in 1529 by a man so honored by Reverend Michael
King, Sr. that following a 1936 trip to Germany he renamed himself the Reverend
Martin Luther King, Sr. and his seven year old son Martin Luther King, Jr. Access
any search engine and feel the power of the church militant tapped by the Reverends
King for their great endeavors; available, too, for yours.

“With our powers we will fail/ We would soon be defeated/
But for us fights the chosen man/Whom God Himself elected.”

And so the adamant, soaring words are lifted higher today on the largest video
screens available. Now the colors… the music… the lyrics punch the sky as we
move gently in Washington, D.C. from radiant afternoon to expectant evening.

One senses destiny here today. It is the kind of day you will relate to your
grandchildren with pride. “I was there!”, and those who had neither time nor vision
will rue this day of loss for a lifetime, bowing their heads in shame…

Arrival

“There you catch a glimpse of Dr. King being helped out of his car, to be greeted
by the Mayor of Washington, DC at the foot of the Lincoln Memorial. His son Michael
King, Jr. helps him out and hands him his cane. This cane was given to him by a
former member of the Georgia Ku Klux Klan who participated in lynching a young
black man. A silver plaque was engraved, “Father forgive me.” When questioned as
to why he used this cane, his invariable response was, “There but for the grace of
God…”

“Mine eyes have seen the glory of  the coming of the Lord.”

On the night of November 18,1861 Julia Ward Howe went to bed as usual and
slept quite soundly, waking up to await the cool gray of dawn. Then, all of a sudden,
she experienced the thrill that is creation, long lines of a desired poem clear in
her mind.

“I must get up,” she said, “So, with a sudden effort, I sprang out of bed and found
in the dimness an old stump of a pen which I remembered to have used the day
before. I scrawled the verses almost without looking at the paper.” As so was
born “The Battle Hymn of the Republic”, with its perpetual call to action and robust
certainty indicating purity of heart and God’s will and glory.

Now these irrefutable words are playing above me for the world to know, along with
the inspired music. For this night at least, God’s in his Heaven, all’s right with the
world. Find it in any search engine for here is happiness, too long deferred, too little
known, our right, pilgrim that you are.

“Glory, glory Hallelujah/ His truth is marching on, and you are called to join “while
God is marching on

Part 2  “Here in my heart I do believe.”

The most mild of twilights is now the most perfect of nights, the huge crowd
disciplined and respectful, intent alone upon listening to the final notes of Julia
Ward Howe’s magnificent poem on freedom’s cost.

Then her notes of adamant purpose are superseded by the anthem of the
Civil Rights Movement, the cause that changed America and brought
international leadership and renown to Martin Luther King, Jr.

The man, his moment, his anthem, his message all come together here,
now. If there is kismet, it is here.

The crowd leaps to its feet as if by a single movement. There are cheers,
shouts, whistles, and most of all a million clenched fists, the symbol of
revolution and what its supporters can and will give towards its success,
not just now… but every day in its ineluctable purpose. This is why Dr.
King has come again to the Capital of the Great Republic. And so this 87
year old leader is wheeled to a shared destiny, for we have all travelled with
him and shared in the important results we have achieved together.

Thus the men’s chorus of Morehouse College serenades with the greatest
tune in their repertory, sung to the most famous of its alumni (class of 1944,
aged 15). “You can do anything” they have been told since birth… and today they
believe it and know they have never walked alone.

“We’ll walk hand in hand”… “We shall live in peace”

and then alternating on the vast screens;

“We are not afraid…” and “We shall overcome.” Like so many worldwide I
brushed away a tear, then another, and said a private prayer, for I knew, we
all knew, we could do this thing and be the better for it, or we could die by certain
inches, excuses, denials, expert only in looking the other way.

When I looked up, this man of men was at the platform, frail, held so he would
not fall; the prophet who had come so far over so long a distance. He knew what he
must do to ensure we would do what we must do. If this could be done, then anything
could be done, and we must work hard to ensure it would be, for our chances were
dwindling, the planet, our single home, at greater risk every single minute; our end
if not yet predictable, at least imaginable.

After wave after wave of cheers, the acclaim began to subside. A professional
to his fingertips, he knew just when to step in and take command. After several
raucous minutes, he grasped the podium. We knew he would give his last drop
of blood, willingly, joyfully, with gratitude, glad to have what he needed, the
support of generations, including even the love of those who had once upon a time
hated and despised him, anguish and murder their ready tools.. These, too,
against all predictions had learned from him. “Father forgive me…” The power of
redemption was always near at hand when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was nigh.

As he took his place at the podium, each and every one of the giant screens
burst forth with the most famous of his many famous quotations, “I Have A Dream”
and as these words took flight to the very gates of Heaven, the crowd was on its
feet again, with their thousands of approbations, approvals, enthusiasms, and
motivations. The crucial connection between Prophet and people took place
making this a thrilling experience for all.

Just then a gust of wind blew through the assembled masses, his striking
doctoral gown from Boston University billowed, reminding us that here was a
scholar, a theologian, a pastor, an historian, a writer, an orator,  a visionary,
a thinker and most of all a seeker after Truth. He had done his work, and it was
well and truly done. Hallelujah!

The Speech

“I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest
demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.”

This is how I began my remarks to you in 1963 and this is how I begin them to you
today. My words were candid and urgent then. My words are candid and urgent
to you today. Let me begin with gratitude.

So many  of you here today, so many of you around the globe have worked
together that I can report with pride this day dawns better than yesterday, and we
stand together to ensure tomorrow will be better yet. This is good news
indeed, and we can feel proud of what we have done and what I know we will do
together. Hallelujah!

There are many reasons why we are better off today than then, and I place them
before you now. We achieved them together. Let us then celebrate them together
too, always remembering that further progress is dependent upon maximum unity.

I call upon you now for that essential unity. I have a dream… and that dream is
your complete and utter commitment to freedom here! Freedom now! Freedom
forever and ever. Amen!

Will you, dear friends and colleagues, join me in making that commitment,
for the good of all is dependent on the work of each?

I have a dream that all are equal before the law, no one above the other, fairness
and equality our constant and never-ending goal.

I have a dream that the benefits of education be available, and joyfully too, to every
child, and that this education include art, music, and all the liberal arts, for these
contain the essential wisdom of our species.

I have a dream that no one should want for health care. No people, no nation
can be great when so many lack the basics of sustained health and necessary
nutrition. Now is the time to achieve this goal.

I have a dream where women who want to work do so with equal pay for equal
work. A great nation must be a fair nation and that fairness, long overdue, must
come now.

I have a dream that air be clean…. that water be pure… that animals be
protected and plants as well.

And most of all, I have a dream that there be peace on Earth, good will towards men.
This is the most important dream of all, and the most pressing.

Whether these dreams stay dreams or whether they become hard-won reality and not
just philosophical possibility depends on each of us. If a single person hearing this
message declines to help implement it, the dream must wither and die. You see, we
either ascend together or we decline together to that extent.

That is why, as I conclude my visit with you, I remind you all not just that we shall
overcome but that we are not afraid. We know the work is long and arduous. We
know many will obstruct and deride. We know this is not the goal of days, weeks,
or even decades.

However, we must take up the burden for it is not just my dream that is at stake.

It is the dream of every one of us, all children of God wherever we are, however we
pray. Be not afraid we shall fail, rather be afraid we must fail if we do not walk
together hand in hand. If we do this, failure is unthinkable, our victory sure and
certain; once blind, now found, each and every one of us by amazing grace
that saved a wretch like me.

Envoi

Having finished his historic remarks, he slumped in the arms of his first
son. But he wanted just a minute more, to look at the site of his great triumphs.
He was tired now and it showed. But what also showed was his confidence
that his message was even now growing, his life’s work secure.

All over the great mall people were singing “Amazing Grace”, the well-known
lyrics on every screen. and holding hands, each link a bridge to tomorrow..

One giant screen showed Dr. King shaking hands with the people great and
small who came to touch him and see him off. In a moment, he was in
his car, now speeding into the dark night of eternity, his home for the ages.

This e-book is dedicated to Patrice Porter who urged me to write it and watched
it grow until her tears showed me I had written it just as she had wished it to be…

About the Author

Dr. Jeffrey Lant is known worldwide. He started in the media business
when he was 5 years old, a Kindergartener in Downers Grove, Illinois,
publishing his first newspaper article. Since then Dr. Lant has earned
four college degrees, including the Ph.D. from Harvard.

He has taught at over 40 colleges and universities, quite possibly the
first to offer satellite courses. He has written over 50 books, thousands
of articles and been a welcome guest on hundreds of radio and television
programs.

He has founded several successful corporations and businesses
including his latest at … www.drjeffreylant.com

His memoirs “A Connoisseur’s Journey” have garnered nine prizes
that ensure its classic status. Its subtitle is “Being the artful memoirs
of a man of wit, discernment, pluck, and joy.” You’ll enjoy the read by
this man of so many letters.

Such a man can offer you thousands of insights into the business of
becoming a successful writer.

Be sure to sign up now at www.writerssecrets.co

Tune into the original “I Have a Dream” speech given Aug. 28th 1963

Maya Angelou lashes out on paraphrase at the new Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial… and she’s right.

From www.writerssecrets.com Famous People Series

In Celebration of Black History Month

Author’s program note. To understand the point of this article, the point of Maya Angelou’s complaint about paraphrasing the great words of one of history’s most influential speakers on his very monument, you must love both language and precision. And above all you must love the truth.

At age 83, Angelou is an honest woman. She is a truth-telling woman. And is a woman who understands and can wield with effect the right words in the right order. Most people will call her a writer, and a writer she is. But I prefer to call her a poet, for she is that, too.

A poet is a person who strives to deliver maximum impact with minimum words… who labors with the demons of truth, the difficulties of language and who works obsessively (for every poet is obsessive) with delivering just the right meaning… and this is difficult.

To such a person, gifted with the scourge of outrage, the loutish behavior of the officials in charge of the new national memorial to the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr. is deeply painful… and thoroughly outrageous. Not least because in true loutish fashion, they did not have a clue that their seemingly innocent action would produce justifiable rage.

But before we dig into that, I want you to hear Maya Angelou, poet, read from her acclaimed works, for few poets have won so much recognition as she… listening to the woman as she reads her words will make it clear why. Go to any search engine. Listen to the cadence, feel the way she caresses the language, loving each word tenderly before she delivers it to an expectant world. She is in love with language and the mighty power of language… and she is at war with the unenlightened who by killing language, obliterate meaning and leave us the poorer.

The background.

On February 4, 1968, Martin Luther King gave a haunting sermon at Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church. In it he discussed the eulogy he might and should be given in the event of his death. Death and prophesy were in the air that day; tensions were high on both sides of the Civil Rights question, those who embraced it and its leader and those whose every word bespoke an adamantine opposition. The people, and not just those in the congregation, were unsettled, anxious, and needed the balm of comfort…

… and so the mahatma of the movement, moved to the pulpit none could grace as he, and he spoke, as he always spoke, from a heart, this time burdened with thoughts of eternity and of frail humanity. He wished to admonish, enlighten, and above all prepare them for a reckoning with a destiny he felt was his — and theirs.

This is what he said…

“If you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice. Say that I was a drum major for peace. I was a drum major for righteousness. And all of the other shallow things will not matter.”

And the people knew their revered leader was talking about his legacy and about what they must do to ensure his right and proper recognition and that his message of justice and of peace endure when he was not present.

Two months later, this prophet of equality and righteousness, was gunned down … and so entered History.

His words and his monument.

In due course the nation chose to honor the man and, above all else, to honor his message, in a great civic temple in the nation’s capital. On the soaring walls of this edifice designed for the ages, key passages from his world-changing thoughts would be etched, thereby indicating to even the most casual of visitors what was important and what they must strive to recall and even cherish. The words of his sermon at the Ebenezer Baptist Church were selected… then mangled, insulted, diminished by the very folk charged with revering and protecting the great man’s legacy. These by eviscerating his words became the killers of his message. Little men, they took it upon themselves to rethink, rewrite, and paraphrase what was already perfect and needed no help from them to ring out resolutely for the ages.

Paraphrase.

The culprits of this drama, the monument’s organizers, decided to paraphrase the original, searing words from a man sensing the culmination of his life and work… and so rendered in stone the crucial words from his last Atlanta sermon thus:

“I was a drum major for justice, peace and righteousness.”

Thus they outraged the man, his message, his meaning. For what they chose to engrave in the stone was profoundly different from King’s remarks and purpose. These people, thinking of the good they were doing, instead were transgressing on matters high and mighty, matters they should have left alone.

Why did they do it?

They could not fit the famous passage in the space provided by the architect… they did not wish to leave it out… and so they decided upon the expedient of paraphrase. In so doing they rewrote the passage, gave it quotation marks so readers would wrongly assume the words were accurate, and so they slaughtered what they were charged with preserving. To read the dictionary definition of paraphrase is to see how greatly they erred:

“a restatement of a text, passage, or work giving the meaning in another form.”

But these words, from this man, spoken at such a time and place needed tender care… never to be altered or tampered with.

Imagine if you will what would have happened if the organizers of the Lincoln Memorial, hard by Dr. King’s, had paraphrased the Gettysburg Address, so…

“87 years ago, our ancestors created a great nation of liberty where all men are created equal..

Now we’re in a civil war to test whether this great nation with its great ideas can continue to exist…”

Simply paraphrasing great Lincoln’s great words makes it instantly apparent what an outrage paraphrasing can be… and demonstrates why the diminished words and their diminished meaning must instantly be removed. If space can be found for them, so much the better, but, if not, the right thing must be to take them down at once.

The organizers will of course complain about the extra work, the inconvenience, and especially the cost. They will also tell you that they ran their ludicrous and insulting plan to paraphrase before the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts, which was overseeing the design. They, Philistines all, had no problem with the proposal, thereby indicating their unfitness for their work.

Here the honesty and rage of the poet enter. For Maya Angelou knows that “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the word was God.” (John 1-1). This is known by every poet, and is surely Angelou’s abiding creed. It is also Our Saviour’s whose words “Noli me tangere” (John 20-17), so disregarded by the monument’s organizers, are so very apt and must constitute the last word on the matter.

By Dr. Jeffrey Lant

* * * * *
About The Author

Dr. Jeffrey Lant is known worldwide. He started in the media business
when he was 5 years old, a Kindergartener in Downers Grove, Illinois,
publishing his first newspaper article. Since then Dr. Lant has earned
four college degrees, including the Ph.D. from Harvard.

He has taught at over 40 colleges and universities, quite possibly the
first to offer satellite courses. He has written over 20 books, thousands
of articles and been a welcome guest on hundreds of radio and television
programs.

He has founded several successful corporations and businesses
including his latest at …writerssecrets.com

His memoirs “A Connoisseur’s Journey” have garnered five prizes
that ensure its classic status. Its subtitle is “Being the artful memoirs
of a man of wit, discernment, pluck, and joy.” You’ll enjoy the read by
this man of so many letters.

Such a man can offer you thousands of insights into the business of
becoming a successful writer.

Be sure to sign up now at www.writerssecrets.com
To celebrate Dr. Jeffrey Lant’s 69th birthday we’re
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