01/20/2014

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day


Martin Luther King, Jr. is arguably one of the most influential figures of the 20th Century.  His work on the civil rights movement radically changed our country.  Today is a day to celebrate his life; however, this is also an opportunity to remember the thousands of brave men and women who worked and are still working tirelessly for civil rights.

A few months ago, I had the honor of hearing Clarence Jones speak.  Mr. Jones was personal counsel, advisor, speech writer and close friend of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.   He was a co-author of the “I Have a Dream" speech.   Mr. Jones talked about his inspiration for the speech, and how those in the movement thought that it was important to weave historical references into the speech.  The promissory note reference was written after Martin Luther King, Jr. was bailed out of jail.  It occurred to Mr. Jones that America had given a promissory note to its citizens when it guaranteed equal rights for all individuals with the creation of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.
For a text of the "I Have a Dream" speech, please see: http://www.archives.gov/press/exhibits/dream-speech.pdf

Mr. Jones talked about how Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. improvised most of the second half of the speech.  He said that during the first two minutes, Martin Luther King, Jr. followed his notes; however, it seemed that after the second minute, he pushed his notes aside and started to improvise.  It amazes me that one of the greatest speeches of the 20th century could be improvised.  I am moved each time I hear it because the words, images and delivery are inspiring.  

For a video of the “I Have a Dream Speech”, please visit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1UV1fs8lAbg)

I hope that you have a wonderful day today and that you remember Martin Luther King, Jr. and the brave men and women who sacrificed so much for the civil rights movement.