From the 2nd half of his famous speech:
So I say to you, my friends, that even though we must face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American 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, sons of former slaves and 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 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 every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places shall be made plain, and the crooked places shall be made straight and the glory of the Lord will be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.
This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with.
With this faith we will be able to hear 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 go to jail together, knowing that we will be free one day. This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with new meaning-“my country ’tis of thee; sweet land of liberty; of thee I sing; land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim’s pride; from every mountain side, let freedom ring”-and if America is to be a great nation, this must become true.
Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York.
Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.
Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado.
Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California.
But not only that.
Let freedom ring from the Stone Mountain of Georgia.
Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee.
Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.
And when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and hamlet, from every state and city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children – black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Catholics and Protestants – will be able to join hands and to sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last, free at last; thank God Almighty, we are free at last.”
Photo and words of MLK, Jr. (above) and Medal of Freedom Citation (below) can be found at www.medaloffreedom.com/MartinLutherKingJr.htm
Medal of Freedom Citation:
President Jimmy Carter
July 11, 1977
MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.
Martin Luther King, Jr., was the conscience of his generation. He gazed upon the great wall of segregation and saw that the power of love could bring it down. From the pain and exhaustion of his fight to fulfill the promises of our founding fathers for our humblest citizens, he wrung his eloquent statement of his dream for America. He made our nation stronger because he made it better. His dream sustains us yet.
I grew up in the Pacific Northwest. My first experience with racism was in middle school, when I heard the father of a friend make a disparinging comment about black people. I was shocked. I was wounded; I felt as if I had been punched in the stomach. To this day, I can still remember the feeling in my gut when I heard those words and that tone of voice. Sadly, I heard it again last week. I have never become used to it; I will never become immune to such venom.
Tomorrow we observe the American “changing of the guard.” It is done in a truly amazingly orderly fashion, with somber respect and great celebration of peaceful democracy.
No matter what other feelings you have about the outgoing or incoming President, I hope you can celebrate with me the important piece of The Dream that has been realized.