Monday, January 19, 2015

It's The Third Monday in January

I was 13 years old when Martin Luther King and thousands of brave people marched on Washington D.C.  I heard him tell me of his dream and it became my own dream.  I have used this speech, probably his best-known, in my public speaking class hundreds of times, having them listen to the words of vision, the grace of language.  I use it for many reasons.  First, I want the students to recognize that language means something, that how we talk about things creates an environment.  I also want them to be moved by a speaker, bringing to them something they think they know but most have never heard all 18 minutes.  And part of my goal in presenting an audio recording rather than a visual recording of this speech is that I want them to notice King's speech isn't perfectly presented, that he makes a couple of vocal hesitations, and to realize that if he can make speaking mistakes, so can they.  

It never ceases to thrill me to listen to King speak.  I always find something new in this speech I have heard thousands of times.  It always brings me peace and yet a sense of urgency to make my home right, my nation right, the world.  

As we approach the 50th anniversary of the march from Selma-to-Montgomery, perhaps King's most successful march, I am once again reminded of the importance of following our path towards our dreams.  In his speech at the end of this march, King said of a nation we could become, a “society of justice where none would prey upon the weakness of others; a society of plenty where greed and poverty would be done away; a society of brotherhood where every man would respect the dignity and worth of human personality.” 

I still have the dream to work toward King's vision.  On this third Monday in January, as on every Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, I rededicate my life to helping others, to helping bring peace to our lives, to helping grown a stronger nation. 

"On this day, let us celebrate Dr. King's life. But more importantly, let us recommit ourselves to making his dream a reality." -- Morris Dees, founder of Southern Poverty Law

1 comment:

Michele Bilyeu said...

So meaningful to think about the true depths of this man, this day, and what it does... and doesn't mean to most people in today's generation. How much time has passed just amazes me.