21 January 2008

Hearing Dr. King

I've been trying to write something meaningful about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. today, but haven't been able to do that effectively. Here are his own words, rather than mine.

This clip contains Dr. King's thoughts on the war of his time, and could be spoken as is, today. His words are, as the poster put it, "amazingly relevant" to what is happening in our current world situation. There is also a moving bit from his last speech ... prophetic words there as well, that bring up goose pimples.

This next clip is a condensed version of the I Have a Dream speech, with photos and a good music beat. Again with the goose pimples.

And this last one, if you have a little more time to listen on this day, is the full version I Have a Dream speech.

I'm not much for videos -- drives me nuts not to be able to multitask, I guess -- and I especially don't do well with the longer ones (except the Hat's) but there is much in this speech beyond the clips that are usually played and which we all know. Dr. King's words still apply, are still relevant today in 2008. Yes, much has been accomplished since he made this speech over 40 years ago, but much of it could still be spoken today; there is so much that still must change. That check is still marked insufficient funds. This is one video where I don't want to do anything else, just listen.

I can't begin to understand what it must've been like to be alive at this time, to hear this man speak these words, to have experienced the things he speaks so powerfully about. But I am thankful he lived, and thankful we can still hear his words today.


  1. Wow. It just leaves one speechless, doesn't it?

  2. i am old enough to have heard them the first time around...when they had the march on washington I was a waitress in a cafe in roswell new mexico..and mentioned that i would have given anything to have been able to go...my boss called me a nigger lover and fired me...proudest day of my life...

  3. Wow from me too. I've heard the full speech before, but never with the film footage. Thanks for finding it and sharing it. He was introduced as the "moral leader of our nation," and all through the speech I kept wondering, where and when will we find another one? We are, and have been for so long, morally rudderless. Dr. King said, we must not "wallow in the valley of despair." But, seeing and hearing him, I felt so keenly the lack of him today.

  4. Wonderful tribute.

    Hearing him always gives me goosebumps.

  5. I'm just stuck on what yellow dog granny said. To have that as a memory is incredible and I'm slightly envious, as this speech was before my time.

    Though I'm glad you mention that specific part of his speech that references the check is marked insufficient funds. It is often forgotten that what he was speaking to that day, and the context his speech was written and framed in, was the utter failure of his country to grant a large portion of the population what they had been previously promised.

    That's an important distinction, because otherwise the sentiment is often watered down with how "quietly strong, polite and articulate a leader he was". While he certainly was those things, he was also a man who's activism was fueled by the injustices of the past century, and as much as he was committed to the principles of justice and freedom for all, his passion was in the hopes of effecting a marked change from the racist status quo that, at the time he gave that speech, his country had shown him nothing but.

    Your point that we have far to go is a good one, even though there is a marked change in consciousness. Unfortunately, that hasn't always translated into anywhere near the reality that we sometimes like to think it has.

  6. I too am struck by Yellow Dog Granny's words. It's so easy to be complacent, to be oblivious, when you don't have those kind of experiences to learn from. Wow.

    This day of rememberance and celebration needs to be more than just a holiday from work for many folks. Good on you for adding to the discussion.

  7. I wish my students could "get" it.

  8. Besides Dr. King's speeches, his letter from the Birmingham jail is amazing as well. You can hear his voice when you read his words.

    And Yellowdog Granny - you go girl.

  9. I was at a Unitarian Universalist meeting in Paris the weekend before last and it was all about him, it was quite amazing.

    Then someone whispered in my ear that Martin Luther King almost became a UU... Part of me says that would have been so great, but another part tells me he may never have achieved what he did.

  10. Red: Yep. (which some may think is a good thing ... hey!)

    YDG: I can't imagine having heard that speech the first time around, when no one knew the lines.

    Elizabeth: so true. That phrase actually made me think of the "religious" men who have now appointed themselves "moral leaders", and how twisted and different that has become.

    Whim: Yep. Me too.

    Al: Yes, it does bother me in one way to hear the usual gushing about how far we've come, usually by those of us who don't have to live in the reality that he spoke to. Of course much has been accomplished, and he's a huge reason behind that. But ... yeah, that's a whole'nuther post.

    On another note, I asked my kids what their school did, if they have ever watched the full speech in school. Both said no. They had an assembly, but Teen Demon said it really didn't have much to do with Dr. King. -sigh-

    KA: "It's so easy to be complacent, to be oblivious, when you don't have those kind of experiences to learn from." You're so right. It had been a good while since I'd listened to the whole speech -- and I realized I need to do that more often.

    Professor: Yep. I wish we could teach ALL histories in the schools.

    RG: That's something else it's been way too long since I've looked at, I'll have to go do that.

    SubtleKnife: It's always interesting to see the perspective people in other places have about our history. I had never heard that about the UU bit, interesting.

  11. I forgot to mention I googled it and found this article about it. It's about a talk the writer had with his widow, who was quite the lady in her own right.

  12. I was alive and well during those times....Dr. King was a force bigger than life, bigger for sure than most of the people I have met in my life. I also vividly remember the day he was murdered. You have posted a wonderful tribute cowbell.


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