As we celebrate today, with deep respect, the life, impact, and person of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, we are encouraged to look inside our individual selves to not only determine what we are made of but what we are dreaming for. Dr. King was a true pioneer that knew at his core what his purpose was and what he stood for. The calling and responsibility that he felt God had bestowed on him drove every part of his life – his ministry, his family, his friendships, his service, his passions, and his convictions. There have been very few men or women in history that understood their purpose in life and followed through with it with so much passion and so much determination as he did.
The impact of Dr. King’s life is still resonating to this very day. His words and actions are ingrained in the cornerstone of not only the civil rights movement but in the fundamental components of all the freedoms everyone of us experience today. As we look at his speech that was spoken into existence over 50 years ago, we can plainly see the resolve and passion that enabled him to stand, and keep standing firm, for what he believed in and what he was called to. I challenge you, on this day that we remember, honor, and celebrate the great Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, as you reflect on his speech and his life, let the same passion and clear vision that filled him be a catalyst to inspire and urge you to stand up and follow what you are called to and what you have a dream for in this life with love, compassion, and determination. Dream big, stand firm, and make a difference!
Due to copyright laws, I did not include the full speech. Partial transcript below. Copyright 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr.
“…And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “When will you be satisfied?” We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.
I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecutions and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive. Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends. And 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, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right down 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, and 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. This is the faith that I will go back to the South with. 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. And this will be the day, this will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with new meaning, “My country ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring!” And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true.”
For more information about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his speech, please visit The King Center website.