50 years ago today
Many do not realize that this part of Dr. King’s speech to 250,000+ marchers gathered in front of the Lincoln Memorial was impromptu, delivered without notes.
Mahalia Jackson, standing just behind Dr. King, spoke up: “Tell ’em about the dream, Martin.”
And so he did, speaking “…words of American scripture, words as essential to the nation’s destiny in their way as those of Abraham Lincoln…”*
Its power lies in King’s passion, his stirring moral clarity, and the rhythm and repetition he used so skillfully.
This speech — this specific part of his speech — was voted the Best American Speech of the 20th Century.
“I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, 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. This is the faith that I will 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.”
How you deliver them matters.
Speaking to hearts matters. Making your listeners feel matters.
And most of you reading this today speak to an audience larger than the one that originally heard Dr. King speak on that day.
Think about that for a second.
What are you saying that will be remembered?
How are you using your stage?
*All quotes from TIME Magazine, August 26-September 2, 2013