At American Speechwriter, I’m in the business of writing speeches. Millions of speeches are delivered each year written by people like me or by the speaker themselves. Most are lost in the wind, but a few genuinely influence the world. This one: I Have a Dream – Martin Luther King, Jr., did more than influence. Then, it shook communities, both white and black. Bold. Challenging. And positive. It didn’t set to ravage the racists. Instead, it helped America, and the world, think about what could be. Today, it still rings because we haven’t yet become truly free. Our hand is on the hammer but the bell isn’t yet ringing.
It is a speech laden with hope. In 2023, we remain a house divided, but we should all still hope. We aren’t bankrupt even in this milieu of blame and pride. However much we declare “us and them,” we can find a way toward joining together. We might forever be different, but we can be of one value. There is only one truth in this regard.
“We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation.”
We aren’t done resolving the funds in our vaults. We’re getting better, but it isn’t time to say we’re done. Racism still exists. It exists here in Georgia, in my home state of Illinois, in Minnesota, Colorado, California — name a state and none has the moral victory declared. North and South, East and West.
“As we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead.”
Marching ahead takes introspection. What are we doing well? What needs work? Audit and understand both and adjust accordingly.
Racism is more than lynchings and police brutality. It is found subtly in our lives — those of us who say we are diverse-minded, but all our friends are just like whatever we are. We post tirades on Facebook how awful the murders of Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd were but have yet to have neighbors over for dinner who don’t look like us.
This isn’t a white-black thing as much as it looks that way. It is an us thing. All of us. Even as I write this on a chilly Atlanta morning, I wonder what in my own life needs work. This kind of missive can too easily become self-righteous, celebrating how I’ve arrived and arrogantly presuming others have not. No, I’m in this too. Not as a matter of white guilt, but as a spiritual truth. I am imperfect as I stand before my God, and that God unconditionally loves the world as He wants me to do likewise.
“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.'”
Let’s keep marching, America. Let freedom ring!