Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed

ML King Jr

posted by xscot mcknight

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation. [My source and video of it.]

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, 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 their captivity.
But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. And so we’ve come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.
In a sense we’ve come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the “unalienable Rights” of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.”
But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so, we’ve come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.
We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.
It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. And those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. And there will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.
But there is something that I must say to my people, who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice: In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.
The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom.
We cannot walk alone.
And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead.
We cannot turn back.
There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “When will you be satisfied?” We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. *We cannot be satisfied as long as the negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their self-hood and robbed of their dignity by a sign stating: “For Whites Only.”* We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until “justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.”?
I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. And some of you have come from areas where your quest — quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive. Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed.
Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends.
And 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 exalted, and every hill and mountain 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, and 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 pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.
And this will be the day — this will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with new meaning:
My country ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing.
Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrim’s pride,
From every mountainside, let freedom ring!
And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true.
And so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire.
Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York.
Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of
Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado.
Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California.
But not only that:
Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.
Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee.
Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi.
From every mountainside, let freedom ring.
And when this happens, when we allow freedom ring, when 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!?

Comments read comments(21)
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Bob Brague

posted January 21, 2008 at 9:25 am

Let this adopted Georgian, a Caucasian one even, be the first to applaud you for printing the entire text of the “I Have A Dream” speech. Most people today are unaware of most of what Dr. King said. Even more powerful are the cadences of his own voice saying it. Thank you. It may not have happened in Alabama yet, but it is happening in Georgia.

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posted January 21, 2008 at 9:35 am

We’ve certainly come a long ways from the ’60s but still have a long way to go.
As we celebrate this one particular and amazing dreamer today, may we remember the Giver of our dreams…and dare to dream as well.

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posted January 21, 2008 at 10:38 am

Wow, I am almost ashamed to say I have never read that speech in its entirety. Powerful and moving, thank you for bringing this to mind today.

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Andie Piehl

posted January 21, 2008 at 10:41 am

Thanks for sharing this text, Scot. I am so moved and hopeful when I read this.

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Scott Watson

posted January 21, 2008 at 11:22 am

Scot, thanks for putting thisup; but,as many are reminding us of late,Dr, King’s legacy has at times been hijacked and coopted. He pressed on,in prophetic fashion,to challenge the structures of militaristic nationalism (VietNam War) and economic injustice which alientated him from Johnson and the White House, and even some of his closest advisors counseled him not to pursue this, lest it damage the work he was doing for racial justice. But he knew that justice was indivisible and all these things were linked.He stood for what was right, no matter what teh cost.Scot,you should also put up his last speech made at Mason Temple in Memphis before he was assassinated.
Dr. King was a prophet,a God-called one. He struggled mightily with the burden of this called. He didn’t want it; but he lived it,with all his flaws.

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pam w

posted January 21, 2008 at 12:35 pm

I agree with all comments. My job is executive development, and I use this speech often to talk about and start important conversations about leadership. Public or private sector, this ALWAYS brings tears to the room and a shift in the deeper space of the collective conversation. It challenges us all to look at our time on the planet and what we are doing to step up, speak out and lead in ‘Kingdom’ work (see on-going conversation in this community for definition). Women and men in senior corporate, government and church positions begin to ask questions like “to what end am I using my gifts of leadership?”.
What a legacy! He set in place a vision that is still a dream/goal 45 years later. As Eugene said, we’ve come a long way, and we have a LONG way to go. It would be interesting to have a theological conversation about the new pictures for ‘the dream’ now that the internet has created a true global village. Thanks for posting this Scot.

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posted January 21, 2008 at 1:30 pm

In preparing for some classroom guidance lessons for 1st-5th graders a few weeks ago, I came upon some of King’s writings about the day when he gave that speech. DURING the speech, he decided to change his remarks as he had used the phrase “I have a dream” the previous summer. So he spontaneously did just that!
I truly think that things have changed so much, but . . . when a 10 year old boy looks for me to tell me someone on the playground called him ‘chocolate’ and someone else told Caucasian kids not to be friends with black kids, and this was just last week, we have so far still to go.
We talk about race at my multi-ethnic school, but we’re not there yet. Some of my students want to write to Ruby Bridges to see if she’ll come to speak. Remember Ruby? The brave little first grade girl who was sent to integrate a school in Louisiana in 1960? And all the white families withdrew their children from school for months rather than have them go to school with her?
Yes, we’ve come a long way, but we have to still fight the good fight because we’re not there yet. And speaking as a white mother of a child of color, I hope we keep marching on.
Thankful that we have this day to celebrate.

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Dana Ames

posted January 21, 2008 at 1:42 pm

Yes. Thank you, Scot.
Every time I read King’s speeches and writings, I am also struck by the fluidity and poetry of the language. It’s beautiful.

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posted January 21, 2008 at 1:57 pm

MLK always reminds of Paul the Apostle who was imprisoned and in chains, and still felt that the Gospel would go forward. MLK, too, was imprisoned and it only helped strengthen his mission outside of prison. Today, the only people we have as high-profile prisoners are a few celebrities, who are not thinking about gaining freedom for someone else, or dreaming a dream of peace. This is a good reminder…to read ALL of it. Thanks.

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posted January 21, 2008 at 2:15 pm

Significant dirt « Levite Chronicles

[…] The jar in the picture holds dirt. It is, in fact, red clay from Georgia, not unlike the red hills of Georgia dreamed of by Dr. King. […]

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posted January 21, 2008 at 2:58 pm

Thanks Scot…I always love to read this speech.

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pam w

posted January 21, 2008 at 4:04 pm

“It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment”
this line is very true right now!

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posted January 21, 2008 at 4:17 pm

MLK « Tangence

[…] I Have a Dream Filed under: missional, people, preaching   |   […]

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posted January 21, 2008 at 4:23 pm

Martin Luther King Jr – I Have A Dream « Ramblings of Passion

[…] The Words from MLK’s “I Have A Dream Speech” […]

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Chris C

posted January 21, 2008 at 6:12 pm

Amen. So be it. God give us strength to live the dream.
So much about this, about MLK, is a lesson to us of how to walk the Jesus way today. Uncompromising sense of justice; truth-telling about the wrongs of society together with a passionate commitment to engage, not condemn or hid from it; love for enemies; respect for country and a greater respect for the Kingdom; urgency of the Now; hope and not despair; the solid faith that we CAN make a difference…
It is for freedom that Christ has made us free. Let us stand firm and not submit again to the yoke of slavery.

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posted January 21, 2008 at 8:28 pm

I am blessed by this. I also have never heard this entire speech. Incredibly moving. Thank you.

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posted January 21, 2008 at 11:54 pm

?When our days become dreary with low hovering clouds of despair, and when our nights become darker than a thousand midnights, let us remember that there is a creative force in this universe, working to pull down the gigantic mountains of evil, a power that is able to make a way out of no way and transform dark yesterdays into bright tomorrows. Let us realize the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.? – Martin Luther King

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Doug Wilson

posted January 22, 2008 at 2:02 am

Scot: Some of the people at my church were surprised to hear that Dr. King once remarked, “In the quiet recesses of my heart, I am fundamentally a clergyman, a Baptist preacher.”
Have you ever had the opportunity to read or hear his sermon “Loving Your Enemies” — a wonderful reflection on Matthew 5?
An excerpt from the conclusion of the sermon: There is a little tree planted on a little hill and on that tree hangs the most influential character that ever came in this world. But never feel that that tree is a meaningless drama that took place on the stages of history. Oh no, it is a telescope through which we look out into the long vista of eternity, and see the love of God breaking forth into time. It is an eternal reminder to a power-drunk generation that love is the only way. It is an eternal reminder to a generation depending on nuclear and atomic energy, a generation depending on physical violence, that love is the only creative, redemptive, transforming power in the universe.
So this morning, as I look into your eyes, and into the eyes of all of my brothers in Alabama and all over America and over the world, I say to you, ?I love you. I would rather die than hate you.?

“Loving Your Enemies,” Chapter 3, A Knock at Midnight: Inspiration from the Great Sermons of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Doug Wilson

posted January 22, 2008 at 2:04 am

P.S. The sermon is transcripted online at .

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Doug Wilson

posted January 22, 2008 at 2:05 am


posted January 22, 2008 at 3:27 pm

Thanks Scot. It is something we must not forget, it is integral to the development of this country and the theological development of it. The issues of oppression is something we cannot overlook, for we will repeat it all too soon.

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