Honoring Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
As we honor the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. today, and as we approach the Women’s March next weekend, I’m thinking about the power of protest. Every so often, I re-listen to Dr. King’s “I have a dream speech.”
I only recently learned that the last third of the speech — the part about the dream — was extemporized by Dr. King. While he had a text that was completed the night before, inspired by the crowd, he put the prepared speech aside and introduced an entirely different theme.
“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 [people] are created equal.’”
What’s interesting to me is that the most famous part of the speech, and some would argue, the most inspiring, came to Dr. King because he felt the power of the crowd before him protesting against the brutal treatment of our African-American sisters and brothers in America.
As we reflect on the meaning of Dr. King’s legacy and recall his speech at the March on Washington on August 28, 1963, let’s also remember Dr. King’s equally powerful words from 1955:
“The weapon of protest…is the glory of America, with all its faults. This is the glory of our democracy…the great glory of American democracy is the right to protest for right.”
I’m so grateful to be able to march with many of our supporters next week to protest and uphold the values that AJWS believes are right. So many of the advocates that we support in 19 developing countries worldwide live in societies where the act of protest is illegal and enormously risky to life and limb. Yet they are not deterred. They are not deterred because they, as did Dr. King, dream of equality — and we at AJWS dream that very dream with them.
Whether you decide to march physically or spiritually next weekend and in the coming weeks, months and years, I thank you for your commitment building the kind of world we want to live in — a world anchored in equality and justice that celebrates diversity.