How Having a Dream Shaped Our World

There are many implications and repercussions in our country as a result of Martin Luther King Jr’s “I have a dream” speech. With Dr. King’s march on Washington that lead to his “I have a dream” speech, he gave courage and motivation to the people of his time and to those that would come after. He gave us an example of holding the government to their promises and obligations to the people. People want to have their rights laid out clearly and protected without exception. King is spoken about in high praise and used as an example to promote change and progressive agendas even today in the year 2018. The effects of King’s speech were not immediately seen and felt as strongly as the should have been, but they started a ripple that led to waves years down the road.

During King’s life, there was a lot of optimism and opportunity around the country for the average caucasian person. There was still optimism and hope alive in African Americans but not quite as many opportunities to thrive. 100 years after the emancipation proclamation was signed by president Lincoln, is when Dr. King gave this speech. He proclaimed that, “one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination” (King, 1963). Through non-violent protest and civil-disobedience Dr. King fought for equality. His attitude was one of perseverance as he didn’t seek to give up or overthrow the government, but to have it fulfill its obligation to all of its citizens. King gave the weak and oppressed a voice and a platform to stand up and reclaim what they deserved. King is still quoted often to call attention to situations where oppression and inequality still exist. His words echo in the heads of those fighting for freedom and equality.

Martin Luther King Jr. had not only a national effect but he also fueled a fire in many other people from other countries. There are streets named after King in many countries around the world including the United states, India, Zambia, South Africa, and many others. He was able to spark revolutions and movements in these countries so these people could reclaim their own rights as human beings and members of a society. Racism and oppression ran rampant throughout the world and he was an essential part to the resistance against the bigotry and oppression. This is why there are civic facilities and monuments around the world dedicated to Dr. King. He believed in democracy and that all people deserved the inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Our country has progressed significantly since the time of Martin Luther King Jr, but it is evident that we still have not completely reached the goal that our 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” (King,1963). There has been significant progress worldwide in this pursuit but there is still racial inequality and struggles deeply embedded into societies and governments throughout the world. These things are being attacked by the ideals that king mentioned in his speech.

With King’s march on Washington that lead to his “I have a dream speech” he gave courage and motivation to the discouraged people of his time and people that would come after. He demonstrated non-violent protests to create change with oppression. In our current day we see marches in the streets to promote gun reform, to protect women’s rights, to protest racial inequality, and police brutality. Recently with video recordings of police officer involved shooting and people of color we are able to see the systematic racism and oppression that exists today, as well as get a little peek into the King’s era and what African Americans dealt with. It’s possible many people have turned a blind eye to this, but it’s being brought to light, like civil rights protests were when more and more televisions entered the homes of Americans. The message that was delivered in that speech is still ringing as people of color and those who aren’t fight for the freedom and protection of all people in this country.  Many posters and banners are covered in quotes and saying  by Dr. King and carried in the marches protesting police brutality and racism in our country. People are calling on democracy to represent its citizens fairly and justly just as King did 50 years ago. Many battles in this war of oppression have been been won, but the war is still present and being fought by both sides.

King’s example of holding the government to its promises and obligations can still be seen today. For example, depending on a person’s interpretation of the an amendment, many different laws could be passed. People all over the nation are calling for a stance on amendments and the constitution to be made clear. People want the government to maintain their rights and allow rights to not be infringed. Although this may not be the most noble cause it is another example of people protesting to protect their rights to not be “oppressed” or “controlled” by the government. Another example is people protesting for the right of African Americans across the country who were unarmed and shot and killed by police officers, Many police officers did not follow protocol or used their weapons in non-life threatening situations and face no consequences. People of color affected by this are still very much in a situation where they are not truly free. Their beliefs hold true to those of Kings’ that a person should not be judged by the color of their skin, but rather by the content of their character as he mentioned is his speech.

Martin Luther King was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee on April 4th 1968. After his march on washington in washington in 1963 was televised his popularity began to grow. People of the country were now better able to understand his motives and understand why the civil right movement existed, they could see on television the people that it affected. When King died there were riots, marches and massive public reactions nationwide. His martyrdom vaulted him into a spot as a national hero, he believed in his cause and eventually died because of it. We have a National Holiday that celebrates Martin Luther King Jr. The bill for this holiday was passed just days after his death without much debate. When asked if people believed the bill would pass they responded, “We don’t want anyone to believe we hope Congress will do this ….. we’re just sayin’, us black people in America just ain’t gonna work on that day anymore” (Younge, 2013). Now every third monday of January the entire nation is able to reflect on what Dr. King started and was trying to accomplish for the generation he was in and the generations to come.

In 1986, almost 20 years after King’s death Ronald Reagan was speaking about affirmative action when he said “We are committed to a society in which all men and women have equal opportunities to succeed, and so we oppose the use of quotas…. A society that, in the words of Dr. King, judges people not by ‘the color of their skin but by the content of their character’” (Younge, 2013).  King’s words and actions were producing results 20 years into the future. He knew that he may never see the fruits of his labor, but we are able to see see them daily. Affirmative Action is an example of the government regulating companies and schools to give people of color a chance to make it and try to help level out the economic inequality in our country. The split can be traced back to the days of slavery where rich white citizens were not oppressed and had many more opportunities to climb the ranks of social statuses.

The legacy of Martin Luther King Jr is abundant  in our world today. His protests and marches in the civil rights movement are taught about in schools. His words are echoed by politicians, activists, world leaders, and many other types of people daily. Segregation was done away with, in part, because of Dr. King and the power and content of his speech. His “I have a dream” speech was a key tool to open the eyes of Americans everywhere, to see the injustice, and to see African Americans as equal citizens in our country. Martin Luther King Jr. is still celebrated and remembered in many countries in Africa. Even the BBC in London celebrates the life and works of Dr. King. Through his speech, Martin Luther King Jr. helped lay the framework to a better life for millions of African Americans by helping them protect their basic rights and liberties as citizens of this country.

 

Sources Cited:

 

Jackson, J. (2018, April 02). Hold fast against the assault on Dr. King’s legacy. Retrieved April 05, 2018, from https://chicago.suntimes.com/columnists/hold-fast-against-the-assault-on-dr-kings-legacy/

 

Younge, G. (2016, January 15). The Misremembering of ‘I Have a Dream’. Retrieved April 05, 2018, from https://www.thenation.com/article/misremembering-i-have-dream/

 

Wapshott, N. (2014, December 05). How The ‘I Have A Dream Speech’ Changed The World. Retrieved April 05, 2018, from https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/28/i-have-a-dream-speech-world_n_3830409.html

 

Hannagan, C. (2015, January 19). 7 speeches by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. that stand the test of time (Video). Retrieved April 05, 2018, from http://www.syracuse.com/opinion/index.ssf/2015/01/martin_luther_king_jr_speeches.htm

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