“Imitation is the sincerest of flattery.” Charles Caleb Colton (1824)
In the case of the “I Have a Dream Speech,” greatness improved upon greatness numerous times through the power of the Black Church’s oral tradition, respect for the ministry, and a little borrowing and polishing, influencing the power behind the inception and delivery of what we have come to know as the “I Have a Dream” speech.
A sequence of ordinary events, involving Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., culminated in the extraordinary speech delivered at the March on Washington on August 28, 1963:
Dr. King heard at some point in his life, a speech given in 1952, by the Reverend Archibald Carey,1 who spoke at the 1952 Republican National Convention calling out the Democrats of the time who dragged their feet with regard to the civil rights, economic prosperity, and freedoms of Black Americans to enjoy the same as all Americans. He pointed out the tragedy of marginalized Black citizens being pummeled with empty promises and being left in a void of chaos created by policies and actions of the leading party of the day.
In 1962, Dr. King had been invited to Mount Olive Baptist Church, in Terrell County, Georgia, which had recently been burned to the ground by the Ku Klux Klan, to stay encouraged and vigilant in the growing struggle for civil rights. Before Dr. King delivered his speech, a 22 year old college student, and Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) volunteer, Prathia Hall, had been invited to pray.2 Ms. Hall, who was the daughter of a pastor, used the phrase, “I have a dream,” 3 throughout her powerful prayer and touched Dr. King in such a way that he began incorporating the phrase into his own sermons.
Dr. King remarked to an aide on the day of the March on Washington, that the speech he wanted to deliver would be “sort of a Gettysburg Address” and the original draft, titled, “Normalcy - Never Again,” originally contained no mention of the dreams that Dr. King held. In fact, it had been suggested by adviser, Wyatt Walker, that Dr. King not use references to dreams, calling it, “trite” and “cliché.”
Dr. King appeared to follow with the advice of his advisers until the 7th paragraph of the speech, when, according to Clarence Jones, Mahalia Jackson, who sang two songs at the podium immediately before Dr. King came up to speak, shouted from the right, “Tell ‘em about the dream, Martin!”
Mr. Jones stated that at that moment, said to a person sitting next to him that those in the audience were “about to go to church,” and “Normalcy – Never Again” was elevated through the use of trite and clichéd “dreams” to become the “I have a Dream” that we all know and love.
HABARI GANI ~ WHAT'S THE NEWS?
African American values were spawned from a time when we had nothing but our own self value to define ourselves… not even our own bodies.
Kwanzaa is a secular festival, created in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Karenga, and observed by many African Americans from December 26 to January 1 as a celebration of their cultural heritage and traditional values.
Kwanzaa was created to reinforce seven basic principles of African culture (Nguzo Saba):
To strive for and maintain, unity in the family, community, nation, and race.
To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves, and speak for ourselves.
Ujima~Collective Work and Responsibility
To build and maintain our community together and make our brother’s and sister’s problems our problems and to solve them together.
To build and maintain our own stores, shops and other businesses, and to profit from them together.
To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness
To do always as much as we can, in the way that we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.
To believe with all our heart in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders, and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.