And when this happens, and 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.
Today, as we honor the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., we should reflect not only on his inspiring words, but ask ourselves as a nation—has the dream Dr. King spoke so eloquently about in 1969 truly been achieved? Or, as the celebrated poet Langston Hughes queries, has the dream of Dr. King been deferred? While there is no doubt we’ve made great strides forward from that historic day when his speech was delivered to thunderous applause in Washington, D.C., we are still tasked as a country to fully come together and allow for the full realization of his dream to come to fruition.
Let us all take a moment to read excerpts from the immortal and impassioned speech of Dr. King and allow them to speak to us in the quiet of our own minds.
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 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…
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 pilgrims’ 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 Pennsylvania. Let freedom ring from the snowcapped 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.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
August 28, 1963