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The Lord says to my lord; "Sit at my right hand, till I make your enemies your footstool." ; Psalms 110:1

OPINION
MONDAY, JANUARY 15, 2007

Jefferson City, Mo. B3

PERSPECTIVE
Excerpts from 1 Have a Dream'
EDITOR'S NOTE: Editors appreciate language that is eloquent, passionate and persuasive. In observance of the Martin Luther King holiday, we reprint excerp.ts from one of the greatest speeches ever written. King delivered his "I Have A Dream" address on Aug. 28,1963, at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. •
Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of captivity. But one hundred years later, we must face the tragic fact that the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize an appalling condition. I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment 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 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. 1 have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, and rough places will be made plains, 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 with which I return to the south. 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. This will be the day ,when all of God's children will be able to sing with a new meaning "My country 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where niy fathers died, land of the pilgrim's pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring." When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every slate 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!

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COMMENTARY

Decades later, message lifts hearts, minds
wise. But I do remember that as the speech went on, some of the black members of the audience ATLANTA — I played a lot of baseball growing began to break in with spirited cries of 'Amen" up, but early on it was clear that 1 was never going and "Tell it!" 1 have been in the audience many to be standing in the batter's box at Yankee Stadi- times when that happened, but 1 had never expeum, where Babe Ruth once stood armed with his rienced it in the role of speaker, and at first it threw me. They don't do that in the churches I Louisville Slugger. And today, even though Imake a living putting grew up in. Gradually, though, 1 caught the rhythm of il, words together, I'm never going to scroll a clean sheet of white paper into William Faulkner's feeling when the outbursts would come and giving the audience space Underwood typewriter, to And sit down at his desk and I also understood, at a gut level, for speak its piece.began the first time, I start pecking out the Great American Novel. the rhythm that you can hear even to understand the real of that tradition But hey, that's OK. in silent readings of King's ser- .power black church, how in the Because last year, mons and letters. The cadence is the speaker can reach something even better happened when I was there on the printed page just as out to the congregation invited to speak at the clearly as you hear it in those old and the congregation in turn lifts up the speaker, old Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, the recordings — it was ingrained in until congregation and pastor are urging the place where Dr. Martin his thinking. other on to something Luther King Jr. served as higher and better. co-pastor. — —— I also understood, at a gut level, the rhythm Standing at the same pulpit where King had that you can hear even in silent readings of King's stood and preached, looking out as he had at the simple, old-fashioned church with its wooden sermons and letters. The cadence is there on the pews and low-slung balcony — well, you can printed page just as clearly as you hear it in those old recordings — il was ingrained in his thinking. have Yankee Stadium. That was pretty cool. Heroes are usually an artifact of childhood; the Ebenezer Baptist, where King's father and grandfather had also preached, is now part of the further we march into adulthood, ihe less likely Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site, we arc lo find olhers worthy of our admiration. which includes King's birth home and grave site. But in King's case, time has burnished my respect King was baptized in the church, and his funeral for the man. King was certainly flawed in his personal life, was held there after his assassination in 1968. Even with all thai history, though, I can't claim and he was acutely aware of those shortcomings. that speaking from King's pulpit inspired great He understood thai evil cxisls, within each of us eloquence on my part — I can't, because too individually and as a force in human history. Bui ihe core of King's genius was his recognimany people were there who could testify olhcrBy Jay Bookman Cox News Service

tion that most of us yearn to be better than we are, that there is transforming power in appealing to what Abraham Lincoln called "the better angels of our nature." Like Lincoln, King challenged us to listen to those better angels, to live up to the lofty ideals that we claim to honor as a nation and as individuals. He understood that violence only begets violence; that political violence overwhelms whatever message it might try lo communicate. Violence hardens the heart and short-circuits the workings of the mind. i3ut as King also understood, Ihe sight of nonviolent resistance can stir the sympathy and fire the conscience in all but the most hard-hearted. In accepting the Nobel Peace Prize, King spoke of his "abiding faith in America and an audacious faith in the future of mankind." That faith was rooted in King's Christian religion, which he firsl experienced and which reached full flower at Ebenezer Baptist. He would talk often of loving his enemies, even ihose he didn't happen to like very much. Once, King was asked in an interview what opponent he would like lo strand on a desert isle. King playfully suggested U.S. Sen. Barry Goldwater, the 196'1 Republican presidential candidate who campaigned in defense of segregation, calling King a commie and a traitor. "I hope they'd feed him and everything, of course," King joked. "I am nonviolent, you know." By 1993, King had been dead for a quarter century, and Goldwaier was long retired from politics. But (hat year, Goldwaterlistened to his belter angels and helped lead the fight in his native Arizona lo create a holiday in King's memory.

For some, it just takes longer than others. E-mail: jbookman@ajc.com

Martin Luther King's words still ring true
By Star Parker Scripps Howard News Service

The characteristic of greatness — whether we are talking about a great man or greal art — is that it transcends time and place. It dips into thai which is universally and elernally Irue and applies ihose truths to a particular momenl and a particular place. Re-reading, after many reads, Dr. Martin Luther King's words of Aug. 28, 1963, the famous "1 Have a Dream" speech, his greatness rings clearer than ever. Because King did indeed touch (he heavens on that day and pull down kernels of eternal truths about freedom and the condition of man, those words of 40-plus years ago have relevance to our struggles today. They can serve as guidance in these difficult times. Am I saying lhal King's message from 1963 can guide us in today's ' conundrums — about our embroilment in Iraq, about the Middle East, about America's role in the world? Yes,

I am saying this. The power of King's message, the unquestionable reason that the movement he led was successful, was his appeal to the truth of freedom and its universal applicability to all men. By identifying and appealing lo the freedom of man as a universal and eternal truth, and going on to make clear that this truth defined what this great country is about, then King's conclusion — ihe imolerability of conditions that denied any American full participation in this freedom — could not be denied. Beyond this central message, King made other very important points in this speech. One of key importance was that responsibility for solving a problem does not necessarily imply direct responsibility in having caused that problem. Although the responsibility clearly was in the hands of those Americans with power, overwhelmingly white Americans, to fix the problems in the country that limited the availability of freedom to all, this did not mean that

all those same Americans were racists or had caused the problem to begin with. The responsibility for fixing these problems came, rather, with being the beneficiaries of a country whose destiny and identity was fundamentally linked with the enterprise of freedom. In King's words, white Americans "have come to realize that their desliny is lied up with our desliny and they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom." He appealed to blacks not lo allow suffering lo Iranslale inlo billerness nor inlo calegorical hate of while Americans. "Let us not seek to satisfy our thirsl for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred." Instead, King exhorted black Americans to "Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive." So Dr. King accomplished a lot of business lhat August day in 1963. He recognized the universal trtilh of human ^iberly. He recognized our counlry as a unique vessel of lhal

iruth. He appealed lo Americans vvilh power to assume (heir responsibilities as the beneficiaries of liberty to make this a better and freer country. And he appealed lo black Americans to assume a different kind of responsibility — lo not allow themselves to be destroyed by unearned suffering but to be redeemed by it. The prophet is a lonely man because he brings a message'that people do not want to hear. Dr. King's activism was not welcomed by mosl whiles and a good many blacks. There is natural appeal in the inertia of the status quo. Change and assumption of new responsibilities and challenges are welcomed by few. Turmoil tells us that something is wrong and we have no choice but to open our eyes and ears and assume the responsibililics that are cast upon us. I am, of course, not a military tactician and am in no position to speculate about how best to use American iroops lo midwife a porlion of the world that clearly needs help in becoming more modern, more civil

and freer. However, 1 can say, that 1 am in complete sympathy with our president who senses thai America has a unique and special role lo play in this world. We cannot shirk responsibililics lhat are clearly ours. I cannot help but think that it is not an accident thai the United States stands so alone, despite many other nations thai claim to have similar commitments to and stakes in civility and liberty. The way they act makes clear that they don't. The truths that Dr. King articulated in so crystal clear a way in 1963 continue to resound today. Freedom is what this country is about. We have no choice. It is our heritage. We thrive and prosper from it. And we cannot avoid the responsibilities that come with it in our engagement with the rest of the world.

Star Parker is president of CURE, Coalition on Urban Renewal and Education (www.urbancure.org) and author of "White Ghetto: How Middle Class America Reflects Inner City Decay."

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