Writing for WORLD Magazine, RFI President Eric Patterson commemorated the 60th anniversary of one of the most renowned speeches in American history. He writes:
“I have a dream. … Let freedom ring!” These words, spoken by Martin Luther King, Jr., were immortalized on August 28, 1963 before a crowd of more than 200,000 people on the National Mall. The hope that drew people to Washington that day, according to King, was to make good on a long-delayed promissory note from the Founding Fathers, a promise of freedom and justice for all. After 60 years, King’s words are a reminder and inspiration for us as well.
In 1963, legislation to end segregation that would ultimately become the Civil Rights Act of 1964 seemed to be stalled. It had been two decades since African Americans had fought valiantly in World War II and 15 years since President Harry Truman ended segregation in the military. It had been almost a decade since the landmark Brown v. Board of Education had dismantled segregated schooling. It had been nearly a decade since the murder of the young Emmett Till, who was kidnapped, tortured, and murdered at the age of 14. The nation was shocked as his mother allowed photos of his mutilated corpse to circulate.
By August 1963 a young Democrat president had been in office for two and a half years, but he seemed to only give lip service to civil rights, so something had to be done: A March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom was announced. In an era in which many homes in the South did not have a telephone or a radio, word spread in churches, by word of mouth, and via broadcast announcements on loudspeakers mounted on the tops of cars.
Read the full article: “Let freedom ring.”