Jeg er straks ferdig med å lese Bearing the Cross, en biografi om Martin Luther King jr. og borgerrettighetskampen i USA.
Midt inne i en rekke indre stridigheter og kraftig press utenfra, dukker plutselig hans mest kjente (og fantastiske) tale opp.
The massive rally [in Washington] was a powerful and joyous scene, with both speeches and musical presentations evoking fervent emotional responses. The program was well along before King’s turn came to speak, and he moved forward carrying his prepared text. «I started out reading the speech,» he recalled in a private interview three months later, and then, «just all of a sudden—the audience response was wonderful that day—and all of a sudden this thing came to me that I have used—I’d used it many times before, that thing about ‘I have a dream’—and I just felt that I wanted to use it here. I don’t know why, I hadn’t thought about it before the speech.» So he dispensed with the prepared text and went on extemporaneously. He had used the same peroration previously—at a mass meeting in Birmingham in early April, and in a speech at Detroit’s huge civil rights rally in June—but on this warm August afternoon, standing before tens of thousands of people, the words carried an inspirational power greater than many of those present ever had heard before:
I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. 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 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.
This is our hope. 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 stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.
The fervor and applause of the massive crowd rose with each new passage, and King spoke forcefully to make himself heard over the growing roar. «Let freedom ring,» he said, «from every mountainside in the East, from every peak in the West, even from those in the South.
When we allow freedom to ring, 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.’