Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was the leading figure of the 1960s civil rights movement. His “I Have a Dream” speech, delivered in 1963 before 200,000 people at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., remains a model of eloquence.
Dr. King began by stating his intention to “cash a check,” the promise that President Lincoln had given to black people 100 years earlier when he signed the Emancipation Proclamation. “We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity in this nation,” he said.
He urged listeners not to give in to “bitterness and hatred,” or to turn to violence. He said, “We must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.” Then Dr. King reached the “I have a dream” section of the speech, channeling the voice of Isaiah as he proclaimed that “the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed.”
“Let freedom ring,” he pleaded, until all people are “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”
When justice is done, it is a joy to the righteous.
Help me treat all people with dignity, Creator.