Forty nine years ago today Martin Luther-King delivered one of the greatest speeches in history, arguably the greatest of the twentieth century. Alluding to Abraham Lincoln (who was no slouch in that department himself) and standing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, King galvanised the civil rights movement and at the same time created a memorable rhetorical legacy.
If you’ve never seen or heard it there’s a short extract:
It’s worth a look. We now know that King had feet of clay but that doesn’t diminish his achievements or detract from his courage. It’s hard now to believe that Uncle Sam – defender of the free, evangeliser for the cause of ‘mocracy everywhere – could be just half a century ago a place where blacks and whites went to separate schools, ate at separate cafes and travelled on different buses.
King’s dream – that his four little children might one day live in a nation that will judge them on the content of their character rather than the colour of their skin – might still be some way off being fulfilled but the promised land might be a little nearer.
And if it is, that’s thanks in no small part to a dreamer. Its good to dream; I have a dream; we all do. And keeping those dreams alive helps banish our nightmares.