On August 28, 1963, more than two hundred thousand people culminated their March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom a the Lincoln Memorial.
Here celebrity speakers including Sidney Poitier, Marlon Brando, and Joan Baez addressed the incendiary topic of the day – Civil Rights. But it was the words of a Baptist Minister that would long be remembered as those that changed the course of history, words that forever linked the hope of racial equality with the phrase “I have a dream……..”
Using the style of a black Baptist sermon, Martin Luther King Jr. called on “all God’s children, black, white, Jew and Gentile, Protestant, Catholic” to join together as one, their unity a living testament to the words of the Negro spiritual, “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”
King’s speech was regarded as a turning point in the legal fight against racial discrimination, inspiring the 1964 Civil Rights Act. In the wake of King’s speech, he was named Man of the Year by Time magazine in 1963. In 1964, he was the youngest person ever to be awarded the Nobel Peach prize. And in 1968, he was assassinated.
On August 22, 2003, the concluding paragraph of King’s “I have a dream” speech was inscribed on the granite approach to the Lincoln Memorial. It is a reminder that on the these steps a Baptist minister courageously carried on the fight for racial equality that Lincoln had so valiantly fought for, and died for, a century before.