I was reading an article that rubbed me the wrong way in that it compared the authors own trivial issues to the “I Have A Dream” speech, something revolutionary that speaks volumes. Over the years, the speech’s strength and message have been watered down to meaning just a dream. The speech is much more than that. It is a symbol of the relentlessness efforts of Blacks to demand racial justice and overall integration between Blacks and Whites. Therefore, to downgrade the speech into something any less than it is is not only a disrespect to the speech but a disrespect to Martin Luther King and frankly, Blacks as well.
King began his speech similar to Abraham Lincoln with, “Five score years ago...” which is not purely coincidental. In Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, he begins his speech with, “Four score and seven years ago...” to open up to his audience. The significance of this is to juxtapose his speech with Abraham Lincoln’s. In his Gettysburg Address, Abraham Lincoln altered the course of the Civil War by making the war not just about the Union of the country, but for the principle of human equality.
However, despite standing in the shadow of the man behind the Emancipation Proclamation, King is quick to express that the work is not yet finished for the Negro. The Negro was still yet to be free and even in today’s world, we are not completely free of our chains. Blacks are still treated differently in job applications, interactions with police officers, and beauty compared to Whites. If you go through history and understand it truly, you will notice that we go through the same problems over and over again. In fact, George Santayana says, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."
King is also strategic in how he utilized rhetorical strategies such as repetition for emphasis on his points. My favorite line he uses this technique is, “We can never be satisfied...” This line is used followed by a series of injustices African American were facing at the time such as police brutality (interesting), traveling issues, and the lack of voting rights. This message not only spoke truths then but speaks volumes today.
Some Whites often complain that Blacks make everything a race issue and that we always talk about being discriminated against. Some Whites even go as far to say that we already have equal rights or we are over exaggerating. We don’t want "just enough." We don’t want reparations so you can feel better about yourselves or dismiss the issue of race and silence us.
Dr. King was right! We can never be satisfied! Our hunger for more equality is too strong and we are not sorry for our cries being too loud, we’re sorry they are not loud enough. We are sorry that the blood of our fellow brothers and sisters still leaves remnants on the streets of the ghettos we were shoved into. We are sorry that educated Black children are still shut out of this twisted power system and have to work at 110%, while the Whites only need to work 80%.
Therefore, I repeat, do not dare underrate something as poetic and powerful as the “I Have A Dream” speech. Do not mock what you do not understand. You do not even know what his dream was so don’t let his speech be a citation that drips from your lips for something so insignificant in world issues.