I Have a Dream – Martin Luther King Jr. (circa 1963)

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In 1963, Martin Luther King delivers his “I Have a Dream Speech” in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.

I say to you today, my friends, 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 this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.’

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.
I have a dream today.[91]

50th Anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery March

This event in American history changed the nation.

The three Selma to Montgomery marches in 1965 were part of the Selma Voting Rights Movement and led to the passage that year of the Voting Rights Act, a landmark federal achievement of the 1960s American Civil Rights Movement. Activists publicized the three protest marches to walk the 54-mile highway from Selma to the Alabama state capital of Montgomery as showing the desire of black American citizens to exercise their constitutional right to vote, in defiance of segregationist repression.

The following is an excerpt from the Dream Marches On website.

American civil rights campaigner Martin Luther King (1929 - 1968) and his wife Coretta Scott King lead a black voting rights march from Selma, Alabama, to the state capital in Montgomery.

American civil rights campaigner Martin Luther King (1929 – 1968) and his wife Coretta Scott King lead a black voting rights march from Selma, Alabama, to the state capital in Montgomery. (William Lovelace, Express / Getty Images)

“In 1965, the eyes of the Nation watched as thousands of ordinary people took to the streets of Selma, Alabama to march for voting rights.

On March 7, Reverend Hosea Williams and John Lewis stepped from the pulpit of Brown Chapel Church and led a group of 600 toward Montgomery, Alabama.  After just six blocks, when they crossed the now infamous Edmund Pettus Bridge over the Alabama River, Sheriff Jimmy Clark’s deputies and state troopers dispatched by Gov. Wallace attacked the group with nightsticks and tear gas, injuring dozens. The violence stopped the marchers’ first attempt, but they would not be silenced or stopped for good.

THE EVENT CAME TO BE KNOWN AS “BLOODY SUNDAY.”

Library of CongressImages of civil rights marchers in Selma being beaten by Alabama police horrified many Americans, including President Lyndon B. Johnson.

Library of CongressImages of civil rights marchers in Selma being beaten by Alabama police horrified many Americans, including President Lyndon B. Johnson.(BETTMANN/CORBIS, Library of Congress Images )

 

Two weeks later, under the protection of Alabama National Guardsmen and Army troops, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. set off again from Selma and marched along U.S. Hwy. 80 to the capital city.
The March continues. Civil Rights in and around Selma provide moving examples of what ordinary people can do.”

Find more at the Dream Marches On.  

Various events are scheduled to commemorate the anniversary of the March.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (officially Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.) is an American federal holiday marking the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.  It is observed on the third Monday of January each year, which is around the time of King’s birthday, January 15.

King was the chief spokesman for nonviolent activism in the civil rights movement, which successfully protested racial discrimination in federal and state law. According to Wikipedia, the campaign for a federal holiday in King’s honor began soon after his assassination in 1968. President Ronald Reagan signed the holiday into law in 1983, and it was first observed three years later. At first, some states resisted observing the holiday as such, giving it alternative names or combining it with other holidays. It was officially observed in all 50 states for the first time in 2000.*

Lauren Simmons has compiled some interesting facts below.

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10 Things You Didn’t Know about Martin Luther King Jr. 

  1. There are close to 1,000 streets in the world named after Martin Luther King Jr.
  2. The former Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tenn., where King was assassinated, is now the site of the National Civil Rights Museum.
  3. Martin Luther King Jr. Day was not recognized as a paid national holiday by all 50 states until 2000. The last to sign on was South Carolina.
  4. In the speech known as “I Have a Dream,” those words were never in the original draft. They were ad libbed.
  5. King’s autopsy revealed that although he was only 39 years old, he had the heart of a 60-year-old man, perhaps a result of the stress of 13 years in the civil rights movement. He himself had verbally predicted he would not live past the age of 40.
  6. His father was born Michael King, and Martin Luther King Jr. was originally called Michael King Jr. After a family trip to Germany, his father, a pastor and missionary, changed both of their names to “Martin Luther” after the German Protestant reformer.
  7. He entered Moorehouse College at the age of 15 as part of an early admittance program that aimed to boost enrollment during the war.
  8. Martin Luther King Jr. was a big Trekkie. He was so into Star Trek that he managed to convince Nichelle Nichols, who played Uhura, to stay on the show beyond the first season.

    Nichelle Nicols as Lt. Uhura

    Nichelle Nicols as Lt. Uhura

  9. In 1964, at the age of 35, King won the Nobel Peace Prize. To this day he is still the youngest male to ever receive it.
  10. There are two places outside of the United States that celebrate MLK Day: Toronto, Canada, and Hiroshima, Japan.