In August 1963, Dr. King led the March on Washington and delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech. To honor his dedication and hard work during the Civil Rights Movement, the third Monday in January became a national holiday to remember him and his work. It is also a time to remember the cost of his work was death.
Many times, people forget that the racism, injustice, and oppression he fought against led to his assassination. It left his wife, Coretta Scott King a widow and his children without a father. In the book “The African-American Century: How Black Americans Have Shaped Our Country,” the author states, “On the verge of his death, the only African American we celebrate as a hero with a national holiday was deeply depressed and at a low point in his public popularity.”
To quote Dr. King without understanding what he endured and believing in his work continuing today is hypocrisy. Yet every year, when the Dr. King holiday comes around, there are people who do just that. Many times those quotes come from his “I Have a Dream Speech.” It is hard to quote any other speeches when you haven’t read them.
On his holiday, take a moment to think about how Dr. King gave the ultimate sacrifice and take the time to read other speeches he gave outside of the “I Have a Dream Speech.” Last, take action. Dr. King said in his last speech “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop,” which he gave the day before he was assassinated, “For when people get caught up with that which is right and they are willing to sacrifice for it, there is no stopping short of victory.”
The passion to be involved in social justice work to ensure everyone has a chance at a secure and productive future should burn as fierce as King described in his “Mountaintop” speech. It should burn like “a certain kind of fire that no water could put out.” Burn bright and make a difference starting today and continue throughout the rest of the year.
Dr. King Speeches