It’s Martin Luther King Jr. day; and although, like many of you, I’m thrilled to have the day off after working fourteen days straight. I’ve also been super inspired by what an inspirational man Martin Luther King Jr. truly was. His speech “I Have a Dream” is one of the most widely known, and inspirational speeches of all time. So, before I get any further, let me first thank all those, present or not, for the amazing inspiration and work you did 52 years ago. For all that you went through, may we not take it for granted.
As I was reading through articles and historical documents this week I was reading about the gathering at the capitol, about how they expected around 100,000 and that size doubled to over 250,000 people; 60,000 of whom were white. Though multiple levels of security were called in for the event, including the National Guard, they were mostly used to help those marching who were collapsing due to heat exhaustion. After working at the American Red Cross for the past several months, I’ve participated in organizing events (on a very small scale) and the amount of organization, preparation and dedication that the organizers and committee had for this event are amazing. The communication of the bus passes, where to start the march if you were coming from Cincinnati or other areas alone would be months of preparation. And for the modern generation, remember, they weren’t able to send a text asking “where are you?”. Everything must be organized to the final dotting of an i and crossing of a t.
This was the first time that much of America had seen, or heard MLK Jr. clearly, broadcasting companies were able to get the event translated into several languages and into nearly every television and radio in the country with the help of new technology and equipment. Martin Luther was the last to speak on August 28th 1963, because no one else wanted to; they had assumed the news crews would be gone by the afternoon and so he was going to fill the slot with a four minute speech. But Mahalia Jackson (who later was the first gospel singer to win a grammy) shouted “Tell them about the dream, Martin! Tell them about the dream!” Martin Luther King Jr. pushed his notes aside and gave his famous speech, to 250,000 people and more around the country, entirely improvised.
There are so many important lessons to take from what Martin Luther King Jr, and the rest of those from the “Big Six” leaders from that march.
One: it’s an amazing thing what the power of peace can do. 250,000 people all gathered together and there is not one recorded act of violence or instance that needed the attention of security. Music, prayer, and gathering together to change a cause; we often resort to violence, nowhere in history has there been a record of that method working positively.
Two: fear never got in the way of progress, and hope never gave out to discouragement. Multiple arrests, some people being pushed away by family or friends believing they were too “radical” or that it was “unsafe” or perhaps even “pointless”. There were opposing opinions, for any skin-tone participating in the March. But determination, character and morals, the discipline of holding to a belief, and of making the world better held strong. I wonder if our generation will have the tenacity to do this, as peacefully as the March on Washington went…
Three: The power of a creative mind, is invaluable; but the power of all minds working together is unspeakable. Without creativity we would not have the privilege of having ever heard “I Have a Dream”; King improvised the entire sixteen minute speech that is written in history books, on inspirational posters, and was one of the key reasons that he is the only man, who is not a president, to have his own national holiday. But without Mahalia Jackson (another creative mind) he would have most likely stayed with his original speech of America being a “Bank of Justice” (respectively). That woman, had the courage to yell at her friend, in front of thousands, to speak about the creativity that he had discussed with her.
Four: You can be the most well spoken, well meaning person, but without being surrounded by good people, who are willing to correct you, and come along side you, you will get no where. Martin Luther King Jr. is often seen as the face of this March and of this movement, but there were at least six other major leaders in organizing this one event, not to mention the peaceful protests, and protestors throughout the south. King started something, he propelled a movement, but without the entire group there is no way it would have been successful. Surround yourself with good people, those who will help you rebuild the world.
Five: We still have issues like this going on, we still have inequality in so many ways. I don’t know if we will ever get rid of it, but I’m willing to try. There’s still inequality amongst ethnicities, cultures, social status’, genders, sexual orientations, ages and religions. I’ll continue writing about some of these issues occasionally on this blog. The dream doesn’t have to stop, it has been 52 years since that speech was given, 152 years since the Emancipation Proclamation. We can still have this dream.
“Tell them about the dream, _______! Tell them about the dream!”