(photograph of MLK National Memorial by Larry Downing for Reuters)
“He captured the spotlight of history precisely at the right time, and responded with a blueprint for what America could become if it trusted its democratic legacy… He was murdered. But his dream still excites our social and political imaginations. It beckons us to work, to realize the dream that America can indeed be a truly pluralistic society and that planet Earth can be a place in the universe where peace, justice, and freedom are the dominant ethos.” ––James M. Washington, Introduction to A Testament of Hope, The Essential Writings and Speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr.
August 28, 2013, will mark the 50th anniversary of the great 1963 March on Washington D.C. for Civil Rights and for Martin Luther King Jr.’s delivery of his now iconic “I Have a Dream”speech before a national audience. Plans had long been underway to commemorate the event on Saturday, August 24, with a symbolic reenactment of the original march. Recent events, however, such as George Zimmerman’s acquittal for the killing of Trayvon Martin and the Supreme Court’s decision to all but repeal the 1965 Voting Rights Act, have inspired many to call for something beyond symbolism.
With Martin Luther King, III, working alongside Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network, the goal has evolved from hopes to make a meaningful emblematic gesture to accomplishing a true nonviolent protest that will help encourage action against the seeming tide of political and social regression sweeping over the nation. With that in mind, the commemorative march, conferences, film festivals, concerts, and other activities slated to take place August 24 – August 28 will help determine the significance of MLK’s dream in 2013.
Fresh Film Takes on a Complex Issue
Whereas much of contemporary America’s troubles may be traced to economic factors, the racial component has become too increasingly volatile to dismiss with a few short-lived riots or with condescending political motions that sound momentous but ultimately deliver little along the lines of sustainable solutions. As if to underscore how much aspects of race relations have not changed since the original march on Washington, the new films Fruitvale Station and Lee Daniels’ The Butler provide contrasting yet complementary portraits of life and death as a black male in America.
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Text and meaning in Martin Luther King Jr.s I Have a Dream Speech part 1 of 4.