BOSTON (CBS) —- We’re all busy these days, I know. But no one’s too busy to spare five minutes to read the speech that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave at the Lincoln Memorial 50 years ago today.
Read: Boston MLK Events
It may be the most patriotic speech ever made by an American citizen.
Listen to Jon’s commentary
Dr. King talks about the “magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence,” and how their signers made a promise to every American of inalienable rights to “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”
He refers to the “great vaults of opportunity of this nation.”
And after he has wrapped his cause in the nation’s most revered historic visions of itself, he explains that his dream of equal rights is “a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.”
Dr. King cautions against distrust of all white people, noting the significant white presence at the March on Washington and observing that they “have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny…. their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom.”
And he warns that “we must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline.”
The memorable closing of the “I have a dream” speech is also its most spiritual part, with Dr. King explicitly casting equality as the Lord’s will.
And he doesn’t hesitate to connect his spiritual belief with his political goals: “With this faith,” he said, “we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood.”
Spirituality. Principle. Understanding. Optimism. Intellect. Patriotism. All expressed in plain language in a speech that remains, all these years later, the greatest description ever of the American dream.
It should be the goal of all our leaders to someday be even half as eloquent about it.
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