I don’t normally repost, but I’ve been thinking about this idea a lot lately: in order for a community to really bind together, they need a dream, a vision of what it would be like to realize that dream, and a mission to take them there. On Martin Luther King Day, it’s important we remember him both as a man, and as a member of a community he helped build and shape.
The story below is about the famous “I have a dream” speech. It’s about how it never would have happened that day in the way it did without the people are him and their shared experiences. There’s something special in knowing such an iconic historical moment was one part improvised, and another part emergent from a group on a mission together.
What follows is the post from this time last year, and if you’ve never heard the whole “I have a dream” story, do click the NYT link below too.
It wasn’t in the speech. It wasn’t in the draft. It was a riff he had used in prior speeches. In front of the Lincoln Memorial, gospel singer Mahalia Jackson called out, “Tell them about the dream, Martin!” And then he told them. Improvised. The stuff of legend.
It takes a community. One that is fully engaged and pushing each other forward. It takes a Dr. King, a Mahalia Jackson, and even an Abe Lincoln and the people who built the memorial for this event to take place in front of.
The conclusion of the speech was supposed to be about taking “creative dissatisfaction” back to the cities and towns of the audience members. No doubt the dissatisfaction returned with them. More importantly, for them and for our history, they returned with a vision, with a dream.
Here’s a short version of the story of the speech from NYT in 2013.
And, for good measure, some Mahalia Jackson: