On Monday, January 20th, we as a nation will mark the enduring legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Born in Atlanta, Georgia, Dr. King was the middle child of the Rev. Martin Luther King Sr. and Alberta Williams King. As a child, he was directly exposed to the hateful and bigoted practices of segregation. He eventually went on to Morehouse College, Crozer Theological Seminary and Boston College.
In 1955, Dr. King led the Montgomery bus boycott in Alabama after Claudette Colvin and Rosa Parks refused to give up their seats to white bus riders. The boycott lasted over a year and ended after a District Court ruling outlawed racial segregation on public buses. In 1957, he and others founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference which focused on using nonviolent protests to end the practice of racial inequality and segregation across the southern states.
Over the next eleven years, Dr. King worked tirelessly for the mission of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Working closely with black church congregants, elected officials at the Federal level, and other religious leaders, his message of hope and nonviolence spurred the Civil Rights Movement in the United States. He was assassinated on April 4, 1968.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is an enduring figure in United States history and his legacy lives on to this day. As we prepare to remember that legacy, we would like to share this famous passage from his “I Have a Dream” speech given in Washington, D.C. in 1963 during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.
“I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
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. I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, . . . one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers. 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.
This is our hope. . . With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we 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 we will be free one day. . . .”