On a warm August day in 1963. Martin Luther King took to the stand, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Very few people quote or reference the first 11 minutes,, in fact he begins to wind up…
“……………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. And some of you have come from areas where your quest — quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution 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.”
At this point by most accounts King left his scripted speech and incorporated thoughts he had shared previously, prompted by the singer Mahalia Jackson who stood nearby shouting “Tell them about your dream Martin. Tell them about the dream.” The air then becomes electric and he delivers what has been ranked the top American speech of the 20th century.
“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 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, 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, and this is the faith that I 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”
I guess everyone will have there own opinions, but for me this is an “Inspired” moment in history.
Who ever our leaders are, hoping they get a little divine help and inspiration can only be a good thing as heaven knows they need it ! Sadly for many this dream is still just that.
I cannot change the world, but I can change me.
I cannot sway millions but, I can influence those around me.
I have watched several documentaries and films in recent weeks, attempting to educate myself on the issues of racism. I could share lots of well-known quotes and statistics, but you will either know them or need the experience of finding them yourself. The thing that stood out the most – was the importance of communication and not assuming what others want or need.
So, I asked 4 of my Black friends directly, is racism an issue in the UK. I was both saddened and shocked by some of the many accounts that came up in the replies. Ranging from a consensus of yes, but I live with it, through to some very specific and unexpected stories.
One reply from a family man of my own age, talked of planning to buy a new car, but having to choose carefully, as a wrong choice would result in being stopped more often by the police. This has played on my mind, as it defines “White privilege” in simple day to day terms. He must consider things I do not. Yes, there are lots of other types of privilege: but this is one that just does not have to exist.
None of my friends were offended by the question, I asked. It certainly does not seem to be a question they have had often, from a middle-aged White man. I would encourage everyone to start a conversation, we build bridges rather than walls when we open ourselves to personal discussion.
Perhaps these conversations will begin to change the world one person at a time, even if the one is only us.”
Of course I knew the world was racist, It just became more personal when I asked and discovered how it affects my friends.
The attached video is only 33 seconds long, but it speaks volumes. We know, but have chosen to remain quiet.