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Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

January 15, 2013

Next Monday will be Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.  This June marks the 50th anniversary of my college graduation.  I cannot believe the passage of years!  The speaker was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  It was a different time.  Kennedy was president.  There was widespread racial inequality.  Congress had yet to pass any type of meaningful civil rights laws.  And Dr. King was viewed as a threat by many.  My school was part of The City College of New York later to become its own college within the City University named Baruch College.

 

A couple of months before my graduation Dr. King composed his “Letter from Birmingham Jail” calling on his civil rights followers to continue active, forceful, peaceful and non-violent legal methods of dissent to effect social change.  King said that “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”  At this point in his struggles, he did not have widespread support among black Southern clergy or moderate civil rights leaders who preferred less confrontational forms of protest.  King quoted in his letter to Chief Justice Earl Warren who said five years earlier “Justice too long delayed is justice denied.”

 

Two months after speaking at my graduation, Dr. King led the march on Washington where he gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech, one of the finest speeches in American history.  Here are some excerpts:

 

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!

 

This great man was murdered five years later at age 39.

 

In six days (coinciding with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day) a Black American will be inaugurated for his second term as President of the United States.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Ray Russolillo permalink
    January 15, 2013 4:36 pm

    We have come so far but have so far to go. Thanks for reminding us of the reason we commemorate MLK Day.

  2. January 17, 2013 12:37 am

    Thanks Ray for your comment.

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