The Revisionist’s Martin Luther King Jr., “I Have A Dream For Most Of Us”

Jose VilsonJose4 Comments

Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr.

For some revisionists, MLK Jr. was either one of two things: a staunch conservative who lived patriotically, owned guns, and worked towards self-help, or he was a such a commercial pacifist whose message for peace followed every rule in the book and posed no real threat to the establishment. Then, there are those who, after having recognized MLK’s full history, still want to use his name for things he would never entertain, like breaking unions and limiting opportunity to a full education to only the “good” kids, whatever that means. Here, I present their rendition of the Dream Speech.

Hope it helps.

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. At least for most people in this country.

[Redacted because, let’s be honest: in the future, your descendants won’t read the whole first part of this speech. I’ll talk about the history of the Negro in this country, and my call for reparations at least in the form of full rights afforded to all who helped build this country. I’ll talk about the sorts of things people should know about me, the radical me. I’ll talk about an America that has yet to come through on its promises. I’ll also refer to people who rather swim in hatred and bitterness than actually loving one another on a human level, but you’ll ignore that, too. So let’s get to the “good” part.]

I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream for most of us. 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, except the most uncouth. They can wait outside.

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, except if you want to arrest Black kids for misbehaving in class. That’s admissible.

I have a dream today. For most of you.

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 white boys and white girls will join hands with only the best and brightest of little black boys and little black girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today. For most of you.

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 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 as long as they’re playing the instruments we want them to. 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. Most of us, anyways.

This will be the day when most of God’s children will be able to sing with a 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.” Every morning, without real understanding of it.

And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. 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.

However you decide to define freedom, and to whomever you deem.

And when this happens, when we allow freedom to 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, most of us are free at last!”

[Just sayin’.]

Jose, who wouldn’t want people to take my words and mince them for their purposes either …

p.s. – For the real text of Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech, please click here.

Comments 4

  1. The school system has made such a cartoon out of King that my students are shocked when they meet the real man, in his words. I don’t start with “I Have a Dream,” not because I don’t like it, but because it is so layered with meaning and figurative language and difficult clauses that my students don’t understand it at first.

    It’s not simply an ELL issue, either. My gifted kids don’t get it, either. Most Americans don’t get it for that matter. He wrote intelligently and forcefully.

    So, I start with “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” and we take our time to make sense out of it. Students are often shocked by King in his own words. First, they struggle with how eloquent he is. Somehow the cultural stereotypes have made it impossible for them to believe (even though they are students of color) that he would speak with such poetic language. Next, they’re shocked by the razor sharp logic and keen intellect he uses. Finally, they’re shocked that he was not a nice man. His anger often bothers them.

    Then he becomes real. A force to be reckoned with. He’s no longer a cartoon and he becomes a hero again. But it requires his own words, parsed out slowly, in difficult language, talked about in hard conversation, for him to come to life again.

    And I squirm, knowing that I’m coming from the power culture, that so much of it is just white noise to me.

  2. This is powerful. The strikethroughs stand out to me more than anything. In looking at Dr. King, we have to look at the whole picture and not get caught up in ideologies or warped negative images. It’s unfortunate that messages are often interpreted incompletely and out of context.

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