Fifty years ago, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., on August 28, 1963 gave the famous “I have a dream” speech at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. to over 250,000 civil right supporters. There was a lot more substance to the speech besides the most well-known “I have a dream” portion. Dr. King came from a long line of prophetic voices rooted in the Judeo-Christian tradition. They have the unshakable faith of a vision of a sustainable world that has not yet been realized. Dr. King was a sustainist, in my book, because his passion was centered on creating a sustainable and just community that values multiple perspectives.
Here are the lesser known excerpts from his speech:
We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.
And the marvelous new militarism which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers have evidenced by their presence here today that they have come to realize that their destiny is part of our destiny.
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 every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places plains, and the crooked places will be made straight, and before 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 mount 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 genuine discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, pray together; to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom forever, knowing that we will be free one day.
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1)
Reflection Questions for Proper 14 (Year C)
Isaiah 1:1, 10-20
Psalm 50:1-8, 23-24
Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-16
Eric H. F. Law
For competent leadership in a diverse changing world
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