I have a dream.
Those words, spoken 50 years ago, Aug. 28, 1963, by Martin Luther King Jr., remain a benchmark for this country. His speech is considered one of this country’s greatest speeches, and those words still echo today in the battle against racism.
It was delivered to some 250,000 people gathered around the Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington. Historians call it one of the defining moments of the Civil Rights Movement. They are correct.
Let’s consider his words:
“But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.”
U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa said the speech “would resonate beyond the National Mall to the rest of the nation, forever changing the civil rights movement. He spoke out against the dangerous racism that plagued our country and gave momentum to a change in our society that continues today.
“His message, one of hope and tolerance, reminds us that the fight for equality is far from over. Dr. King preached acceptance for all, and unfortunately we still do not live in a world where all men and women are equal. The best way that we in government can honor the legacy of Dr. King and those brave marchers is to carry their lessons into our work every day, so that their dream can become a reality in every community.”
Yes, there is still much to do in this country when it comes to ending racism. Too many still believe all people are not equal. Too many let anger and hatred guide them. Let’s prove them wrong. Let’s never never forget King passionate, final words that day:
“Let freedom ring. And when this happens, and when we allow freedom ring — when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children — black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics — will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual: “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”