Monday, January 19, 2009

A New Day

How perfect that this Martin Luther King Day finds the first African-American President-Elect waiting in the wings for tomorrow's inaugural! As one who remembers clearly the days of separate and unequal, I am so happy to be here to see at least part of King's dream coming true.

No doubt you'll hear and read King's "I Have a Dream" speech many other places today. But, oh my goodness, what a speech that was! For soul-stirring rhetoric, I believe it's right up there with The Declaration of Independence -- and like the Declaration, well worth reading aloud, just for the pleasure of hearing the words roll like thunder.

This below is the often quoted conclusion.

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."

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will 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.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of "interposition" and "nullification" -- one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; "and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together."2

This is our hope, and this is the faith that I go back to the South with.

With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

And this will be the day -- this will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with new meaning:

My country 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing.

Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrim's pride,

From every mountainside, let freedom ring!

And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true.

And so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire.

Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York.

Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.

Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado.

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California.

But not only that:

Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee.

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi.

From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:

Free at last! Free at last!

Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!3

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Carol Murdock said...

Great post Vicki....It is a graet time to be alive to witness it don't you think ? I too posted on this great time in History. Still panting and blowing?

Vicki Lane said...

Still at it but couldn't let this day go by without a post on the subject.

Pant, blow, pant, blow.

Anonymous said...

We had a special service of racial reconciliation last night, which included listening to that speech, and just about blew the roof off our church with enthusiasm and joy. There we were, black and white together, holding hands and singin' and swingin' and sayin' hallelujah!

What a beautiful sunrise - a lovely sight on this cold and snowy day.

Vicki Lane said...

I am so full of hope that this really is the beginning of a new era in America -- when we begin to do more that give lip service to those fine words of equality.

Let it be.