Valdosta Daily Times

What We Think

January 19, 2014

MLK: The Dream and the Promise

-- — The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke of having a dream to a crowd of thousands during the March on Washington.

In what has become one of the most famous speeches in American history, King said, “I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slaveowners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood. ... I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will be judged not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. ...”

More than 50 years later, King’s words still resonate and still speak to the potential of a dream becoming reality and of a promise to be kept.

He gave the “Dream” speech in front of the Lincoln Memorial, a monument dedicated to President Abraham Lincoln who a century earlier had freed the slaves with the Emancipation Proclamation. Lincoln also made one of the most famous speeches in American history with the Gettysburg Address, which noted, “... our forefathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” Lincoln’s speech concluded with the famed words, “that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

The Gettysburg Address has been referred to as the speech that consecrated the Declaration of Independence.

With the immortal words, “we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,” the Declaration became a national promise.

Thomas Jefferson was a slaveowner in a nation divided into slave and free states. But he and the nation, whether they meant to or not, made a promise that people are born with an inalienable right to equality and accordingly deserve fair and equitable treatment. By forging Jefferson’s words anew in the wake of the bloody violence of Gettysburg, Lincoln raised the Declaration to the status of “American Scripture.”

Still, the promise of the Declaration was not and has not been easily kept. Women would not receive the right to vote for several decades after Lincoln’s death. African-Americans were emancipated from slavery but had to contend with the brutal strictures of Jim Crow, poll taxes, segregation and the Ku Klux Klan.

Nearly a century after emancipation, men like Martin Luther King Jr. and women like Rosa Parks demanded that the promise of the Declaration be kept. For King, this promise became his Dream.

Sometime after the famed speech in Washington, D.C., King said, “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.’”

Perhaps, the elusive American Dream is the elusive promise of our American Scripture.

1
Text Only
What We Think
  • He is Risen

    Now on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they and certain other women with them came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared.

    April 19, 2014

  • Thumbs up

    THUMBS UP: To Carol Mikkelsen. Valdosta State University Opera’s “Dido and Aeneas” marks the last production before Mikkelsen’s retirement
    after 44 years with Valdosta State and the creation of the opera program. She plans to continue
    working with VSU part-time, but this weekend’s performance marks her last full-time participation with the opera productions. Ovations all around for her work.

    April 18, 2014

  • Feed the hungry, adopt a duck

    If you haven’t already adopted a duck, you have a little more than a week to do so.

    April 17, 2014

  • If I were mayor

    Each year, the City of Valdosta holds an essay contest, “If I Were Mayor,” with students in the area writing their ideas about what they would do as the head of the city.

    April 16, 2014

  • The real lessons of a mock drill

    Valdosta High School’s Students Against Destructive Decisions held a powerful mock demonstration Monday morning on the school’s campus.

    April 14, 2014

  • Kudos to VPD

    Followed by a stellar report on Sunday about the drop in the crime rate in the City of Valdosta, city police officers prove their worth once again by arresting a dangerous fugitive in our community.

    April 13, 2014

  • It just plain stinks

    After every rain event, the pungent smell of sewage can be detected around the rivers and streams of south Georgia, and Florida residents brace for more to float their way.

    April 13, 2014

  • Pennsylvania school stabbings: Why?

    The following editorial appeared in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Thursday, April 10:

    April 11, 2014

  • European bans on emails unlikely in America

    Several European countries are banning work emails to employees before and after normal working hours, between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m., in an effort to curb the perceived abuse of employees by corporations.

    April 11, 2014

  • Strength of character

    It was an unusual friendship — a tiny 8-year old girl with long blonde hair and the 6’10” Michigan State basketball player.

    April 10, 2014

Top News
Poll

Given the amount of rain recently, what's your favorite “rain” song?

Singing in the Rain
Purple Rain
Have You Ever Seen the Rain?
November Rain
Rainy Night in Georgia
Other
     View Results