Exactly 56 years ago yesterday, Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his speech “I Have A Dream.” Without intending to, how timely is it that I am writing today, August 29, 2019, about my visit to the same spot where he stood and delivered what would be considered as one of the most famous speeches of the Civil Rights Movement and human history!
During my visit to Washington DC last June, one of things that I really wanted to do was to stand where Dr Martin Luther King, Jr delivered the iconic “I Have A Dream” on top of the steps of Lincoln Memorial during the historic March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.
I missed the plaque during my visit in 2013 which was no more than inscriptions on the cement that are really inconspicuous unless you know where to look. A friend asked me if I saw it. I was so upset at myself for missing the opportunity and told myself that if I ever get a chance to travel to Washington DC again that I would look for it.
I was in DC last June and I made sure to find it, and stand where Dr, King stood while he addressed the nation. I tried to connect with that day in history and imagine the sea of 260,000 marchers to support the passage of Civil Rights Act and Dr King’s 16 minute speech that changed the nation. His speech is not just very relevant to this day but continues to deliver its powerful impact over half a century later. The very first time I heard it in its entirety was just few years ago. I was driving on the Bay Bridge on my way to work and it was played on the radio during the Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday. I found myself moved to tears. As an immigrant, it is incomprehensible what African-Americans and people of color had to go through before I was born. I just cannot fathom having to give up my seat to a white person only because I am a person of color, not be allowed to go to many public places including hotels and restaurants, drink from a separate water fountain and constantly fear for my life with violence just a way of life. Sadly, segregation might be a thing of the past at least in the Bay Area where I live but in terms of racial equality and social justice we are hardly where we need to be. I will not go deeper although my trip to Washington DC has further stirred my intense awareness of current racial, political and socioeconomic challenges that we are currently facing in the US.
I say to you today, my friends, 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.”–Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
“I Have A Dream”
August 28, 1963
Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. was really one of the great men of history that I admire. He was not a saint and in many ways fallible and human. I admire his relentless courage and passion, and how he dedicated his strength, energy and life to pursuing justice not just for African-Americans, for every person of color and every human being.
If you ever visit the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC, do not forget to look for the plaque on top of the steps, stand where Dr King stood and give thanks for the legacy of freedom that he left us with.