Wednesday, August 28, 2013

50 Years Ago Today


50 years ago today I had not yet been born. But I know exactly where I was. I was in my mother's womb as she lay seven months pregnant on a beach by the Chesapeake Bay, listening to Dr. King deliver his speech on a battery powered radio.

Last night, my wife and I listened to Dr. King's address in its entirety once again. The words he weaved together a half century ago ring just as true today.

Here's a repost from January 2011 that provides some interesting background on Dr. King's historic speech. The entire WaPo article is worth a read.

From the Washington Post...
Martin was essentially reciting the opening suggestions I'd handed in the night before. This was strange, given the way he usually worked over the material Stanley and I provided. When he finished the promissory note analogy, he paused. And in that breach, something unexpected, historic and largely unheralded happened. Martin's favorite gospel singer, Mahalia Jackson, who had performed earlier in the day, called to him from nearby: "Tell 'em about the dream, Martin, tell 'em about the dream!"

Martin clutched the speaker's lectern and seemed to reset. I watched him push the text of his prepared remarks to one side. I knew this performance had just been given over to the spirit of the moment. I leaned over and said to the person next to me, "These people out there today don't know it yet, but they're about ready to go to church."

What could possibly motivate a man standing before a crowd of hundreds of thousands, with television cameras beaming his every move and a cluster of microphones tracing his every word, to abandon the prepared text of his speech and begin riffing on a theme that he had used previously without generating much enthusiasm from listeners?

Before our eyes, he transformed himself into the superb, third-generation Baptist preacher that he was, and he spoke those words that in retrospect feel destined to ring out that day:

I have a dream . . .

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