Dr. Martin Luther King’s courage and vision seem even more vital this year. Since he died in April 1968, before I was born, truthfully it has always been difficult for me to see him as anything other than an historical icon. But this year, as we as a nation are still mourning the recent shootings in Tuscon, somehow that tragedy has made Dr. King’s courage to stand up for his vision of a better society seem even more real–remembering that he was a minister, a father, a husband, who put his life on the line for his beliefs. As we honor him today I want to remember the power of his movement, and the cultural changes that can come about through dedicated community action. Speechwriter Clarence Jones described the March on Washington as:
A quarter of a million people, human beings who generally had spent their lives treated as something less, stood shoulder to shoulder across that vast lawn, their hearts beating as one. Hope on the line. When hope was an increasingly scarce resource.
Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream Speech” is widely rebroadcast on his commemorative day. If you haven’t heard it yet this year I recommend you listen to it or watch it again, and and I also want to highlight two additional radio pieces that I heard this year:
“‘Dream’ Speech Writer Jones Reflects On King Jr.” Clarence Jones, who wrote the famous speech for Dr. King, interviewed on Fresh Air, January 17, 2011.
“Honoring Martin Luther King, Jr.” on The Story with Dick Gordon, January 17, 2011. Make sure you get the full show download which includes audio from a powerful CBC documentary made in 1962, interviewing King himself, and others including Coretta Scott King and Ralph Abernathy: exploring his philosophy of nonviolence, which was inspired by Gandhi, fused with Christian theology, and implemented by King and other civil rights activists during the successful Montgomery Bus Boycott.