(image courtesy of biography.com)
Date: August 28, 2016
I am happy to join with you today, although we’re joined under less than perfect circumstances. While we’ve made great strides in history with moments that are by defined as the greatest demonstrations for freedom in the history of our nation, our trajectory has yet to reach its peak and full potential.
More than 150 years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stood 53 years prior, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice.
But as we’ve witnessed its vibrancy, we’ve also seen, first hand, its embers with only ashes left to prove its existence. One hundred years later, the life of the oppressed is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation, chains of discrimination, and shackles of self degradation.
But there is something that I must say to my people, who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice: In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our protest and outrage for injustice to fall in the foreshadow of vengeance and vigilante behavior. Let us rise to the majestic challenge of combating physical force with the passion in our hearts, the empathy of our souls, and intellect of our minds.
The system, immaculate with all of its sophistications, which continues to swallow and entrap the Negro community must not lead us to distrust and skepticism of all of those different than us. The white man isn’t the problem. The white woman isn’t the problem, for many have come to realize that their destiny and freedom is bound to our freedom, our story, and our legacy. Let’s not chastise all for the ignorance of some. Let’s not berate the masses based on the odious of a few. Let’s not judge them as they have done us for decades. Our strides have proved we have not only surpassed their expectations, but have set exponential goals for those around us.
With the backlash and criticism of the Black Lives Matters, we’ve been categorized as unwilling and never satisfied. Today, we are asked the same question asked to us more than 50 years ago: "When will you be satisfied?" As I stood here, on these steps, more than 50 years ago with an answer, I stand before you repeating the same words today: We can never be satisfied as long as the underserved continue to be victims of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. Sean Bell. Trayvon Martin. Michael Brown. Eric Garner. Tamir Rice. Ezell Ford. Freddie Gray. Walter Scott. Sandra Bland. We can never be satisfied as long as the underrepresented continue to carry centuries of their ancestors’ inequalities on their shoulders. We cannot be satisfied as long as the ill informed are mobilized from ghetto to ghetto and ghetto to legalized institutionalization. We can never be satisfied as long as our offspring and kin are stripped of their integrity, demoralized for their culture, and ostracized for their history. We cannot be satisfied as long as the minority believes he has nothing for which to vote and no one with his best interest in mind. We are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until "justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream."
I had a dream that one day this nation would 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 still have that dream.
I had a dream that one day even the most oppressive forces of injustice would be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice. I still have that dream.
I had a dream that my four little children would 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. Even today, I still have that dream.
My dreams of tomorrow, are still my dreams of tomorrow and more tomorrows to come if change isn’t elicited. I have a dream today, and will continue to have that dream, until my dream becomes ingrained in the life we live and embedded in the depths of our souls.
“Now the war is not over, victory isn't won
And we'll fight on to the finish, then when it's all done
We'll cry glory, oh glory!”
Listen and read the original “I Have a Dream” speech delivered by Dr. King.