It’s been 50 years since Martin Luther King took the podium on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and gave a speech that has gone down in history as the most famous speech of all time. More than 200,000 people packed the National Mall at to hear the speech. Thousands of people, black and white attended the event that JFK tried to stop because of potential violence. But there was none.
The earlier 6-months, beginning in Birmingham Alabama, marked the most vicious racial oppression for Black people since the Civil War. Many came by bus, train, car or plane to Washington to stand up for our rights and to have their voices heard. He was full of the symbolism of Lincoln and Gandhi, and the cadences of the Bible.
He was both militant and sad, and he sent the crowd away feeling that the long journey had been worthwhile.”[ This event was better covered by television and the press than any event here since President Kennedy’s inauguration, which says a lot in those days and times.
This event put pressure on th Kennedy administration to get up and do something about the Civil Rights legislature in Congress. It also caused MLK to be named “Man of the Year” by Time magazine in 1963 and in 1964 won the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts, becoming the youngest person ever awarded such an honor. In 2002, the Library of Congress honored the speech by adding it to the United States National Recording Registry. In 2003, The National Park Service dedicated an inscribed marble pedestal to commemorate the location of King’s speech at the Lincoln Memorial.
I remember hearing this speech as a child of five, when my father played on an old record player, with 33 RPM speed (you young’uns don’t know about that. We didn’t have CD’s and digital music back then*) I can’t believe its been 50 years except for the grey hairs in my do.
Martin would be proud today, thought, that his speech has been taken somewhat to heart. He would be especially proud of Barack Obama, the nation’s first Black President, who commemorated him with a speech on the very site King gave us “I Have A Dream. Martin might have been our first Black President had he lived. He was assassinated April 4, 1968.
Black folks still aren’t really free, but we gettin’ there.
Brings to mind Gill Scott Heron’s “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised“, recorded in 1970 as a theme song for the protests of those times. We still have a long way to go.
Can you dig it?