I Have A Dream…Revisited by Elaine Davenport Monday, January 19, 2009
If you listen very carefully to the “I Have A Dream” speech given by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. many years ago; you’ll hear something that the media never talks about. I heard it today for the first time and used it as a teaching tool to explain that era to my son who takes freedom for granted.
WE CAME TO CASH A CHECK…
“In a sense we have come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men would be guaranteed the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.”
But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check — a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now.”
I thought that was a powerful way of putting it and when I showed it to my son; he actually got it.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was born on January 15, 1929. If he were alive today; he would be eighty years old. He died at the age of 39. How old are you? Think about it.
He was called: “The Moral Leader Of Our Nation.”
The theme song of the movement was: “We Shall Overcome…”
He gave his life for a purpose and a cause. Dr. King knew that he would die; he didn’t care. Few refer to him as God’s man. A man who was a willing vessel to be used by God to carry out God’s plan in the earth for this country. A few people might get mad at me; but Abraham Lincoln took a similar path and faced a hard choice that cost him his life.
My own grandmother, a northerner had to travel south in the 1940′s. She dreaded the trip. She traveled with my mom who was a small child. At a train stop she went to buy lunch for my mom. They told her to go to the back door to get food; they could not allow her in the restaurant because she was a Black woman. That was after she pleaded with them. She was a devout woman of God; she didn’t dwell on it. She only told me that story in passing. She was a forgiving woman; that was her lifestyle.
SO ALSO WAS DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING JR (forgiving). The (then administration of the FBI; led by Herbert Hoover) did a remarkable job of slandering him and trying to kill his reputation. It was a clear example of persecution. You would have to have mastered forgiveness to lead a non violent human rights movement in the segregated south of the 1950′s and 60′s under all of that pressure.
Life in this country prior to the Civil Rights Movement was not only tough for African Americans; but also for other minorities even if it was to lesser degrees. However, the inhumane treatment of Black Americans born out of a slavery curse that didn’t want to die; spawned a powerful movement led by a man who clearly had to be hearing from God. That man was Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. a baptist minister, married and the father of four young children.
At a time where Blacks had to endure slights, persecution, snubs and even hatred; Dr. Martin Luther Jr. began to organize a movement based on non violent retaliation. That was a hard ticket to sell. It was the only ticket that would sell and get the world’s attention. It was biblical; yet no one really talks about that when they recall those times.
Blacks were denied equal treatment even though the Supreme Court had approved equal treatment in schools as a precedent in 1954. (Plessy vs. Ferguson)
Actually it was quite ingenius to have a Non-violent Movement. That movement garnered the world’s attention and sympathy and as the focus turned towards the United States; the leader of the free world; it caused our leaders to become more introspective and examine the virtues that we purported.
Could you remain silent when told that you couldn’t use a restroom that was available; simply because of the color of your skin?
Could you be peaceful in a circumstance with the sherriff threatening to intimidate you with attack dogs simply because you are protesting about treatment based on the color of your skin?
There were many unsung heroes in the Civil Rights Movement who also heard the call of God and we don’t know all of their names; but we pray for those families and their sacrifices and the legacy that they have and that it will be upheld. I do remember the three Civil Rights Workers who lost their lives: James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner. Viola Fauver Gregg Liuzzo (April 11, 1925 – March 25, 1965) was a civil rights activist from the U.S. state of Michigan and mother of five, who was murdered by Ku Klux Klan members after the 1965 Selma to Montgomery marches in Alabama.
As we remember Dr. King Jr. and his family; please let us also continue to remember and pray for these families too.
It took our country a long time to heal; and the healing process has taken longer for some than others. I have always been optimistic; yet realistic about this. Please continue to pray for our country as the devil attempts to cause divisions that we bind in the Name of Jesus.
Thank You Dr. King for your obedience! Because of it; you changed the world!