Dana Pope

By Dana Pope

MLK’s Dream is More Than You Think

150 150 Dana Pope

On August 23, 1963, civil rights leaders led a march on Washington, DC. Speeches were given and music played to show support for civil rights legislation and to protest racial discrimination. One of the speakers was Martin Luther King, Jr., a minister and civil rights activist. His speech “I Have a Dream” is one of the most well-known speeches of all time. His message was powerful and based on a dream for our country.

The address took place on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. King said, “When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the Unalienable Rights” of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” King pointed out that it was a “sacred obligation” that America promised its people.

His words are a direct quote from The Declaration of Independence. King is reminding us of the promises that our founding fathers, the architects of our republic, made when they established America. He is holding our country accountable, which is the duty of the people.

He goes further by reminding the government that “Unalienable Rights” along with “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” are promised for all people. Black people, white people, everyone. Later in his speech, he quotes The Declaration again when he says, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” King is taking the foundation of our country, calling our leaders to uphold those words. He is taking the original message of our national documents and staying true to them. By quoting the Declaration of Independence King shows he has grounded his leadership and his ministry to a firm base. To stay strong as a people and as a nation, we have to uphold our foundation.

Dr. King’s dream for America is the original American dream that “all men are created equal.” His speech is about equality, freedom and making a nation strong. He even tells us how to achieve it. Unfortunately, we don’t usually hear that part of his message. Instead, we get five minutes of the I have a dream part and not the rest of his message that addresses how to make equality happen. King didn’t just talk about civil rights; he set a plan of action into place. Yet we don’t hear that part. The actual “I Have a Dream” speech is 17 minutes long and filled with so much more than we are exposed to. It’s worth listening or reading the entire thing.

Unfortunately, that may be difficult to do because of “public domain.” This term refers to a creative material that is not protected by intellectual property laws like copyright, trademark, or patent laws. In other words, if something is public domain it is owned by the public so anyone can use it.

Dr. King was the one who obtained the rights to his speech. He decided to do that about a month after he gave the address. There were two companies who started selling unauthorized copies of it. Dr. King put a stop to it by copyrighting the speech. Since then his family has received income from anyone who wants to use the material.

I understand why the family would want to keep the rights so they can control where and how the speech is used. There have been historians and civil leaders who have tried to get open access for all to the speech but to no avail. Unfortunately, since it is challenging to find the entire speech and video, most people don’t know what is in it.

What we don’t see is all the wisdom that Dr. King talked about. He tells about the injustice of blacks and the urgency of changing things now. He doesn’t just talk about how things could be; he tells us how to do it. He specifically instructs black men on what he is to do, and educates white men what to do. Dr. King doesn’t just throw out what is happening and what it should be. He tells us how to fix it.

I was able to receive permission to print the entire speech in my book “Who’s Changing the Meaning?” Through the right channels, they allowed me to put the speech in its entirety for $600. I felt so strongly about getting people to read the document that I agreed to pay for it.

This is one of America’s greatest speeches If we expect things to change we have to change. And change will occur if we follow what Dr. King suggests. You need to read the entire speech. It is even more powerful if you get to watch Dr. King’s presentation while you read the words. It will affect you! Change has to happen. Why not follow the man who not only dreamed of what could be but also showed us the way.

Soli Deo Gloria

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