“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.”
We all know these heroic words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., spoken on August 28, 1963, whether we lived through the events of the civil rights movement in the 1960’s or we learned about them in school. This defining moment in the civil rights movement took place when Dr. King gave this partially improvised speech at the Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.
During January and February (Black History Month), The WordPlayers is touring the play Walk, Don’t Ride: A Celebration of the Fight for Equality by Peter Manos. The play highlights several major events in the civil rights movement and includes this monumental speech by Dr. King.
The speech came at a crucial time during the fight for equality, as congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 less than a year later. Dr. King was fighting predominantly against the widespread racism in the southern United States.
The legal injustice up to the 1960’s stemmed from the system of laws instituted after the Civil War and the Emancipation Proclamation, otherwise known as Jim Crow laws. Jim Crow, in effect, only granted African-Americans secondary citizenship, although the spirit behind the laws was “separate but equal.”
On top of that, whites in the South often committed crimes against blacks, resulting in little or no punishment.
Dr. King, originally a Baptist Minister, quickly became the leader of the protests against the prevalent racial injustices. Nonviolent sit-ins, rallies, and marches all became crucial elements in the rhetoric of Dr. King and the Civil Rights movement.
The “I Have a Dream” speech certainly captured the spirit of Dr. King’s passion for equality and qualified him as one of the greatest orators in American history. King’s speech alludes to the Declaration of Independence, American Constitution, The Emancipation Proclamation, Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, several books of Scripture, and even Shakespeare’s Richard III.
His eloquent speech inspired many to fight evermore diligently for equality. In fact, President John F. Kennedy himself considered the March on Washington crucial to his civil rights campaign.
Dr. King went on to be named Time Magazine’s man of the year in 1963 and 1964, and he became the youngest man to win the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 as well. Undoubtedly, Dr. King’s dream finally began to materialize even before he was assassinated in 1968.
Come join The WordPlayers for Walk, Don’t Ride as we commemorate Dr. King and others and celebrate the history of the fight for equality.
We also invite you to the FINAL DRESS REHEARSAL of Walk, Don’t Ride on Thursday, Janunary 19, at 7:30 pm at Middlebrook Christian Ministries, 1540 Robinson Road (Get Directions). Admission is free. For a full schedule of performances, please click here.