The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Opinion

August 26, 2013

Don't forget the rest of King's speech

Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves.

Christopher Columbus discovered America.

The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. had a “dream.”

We like to remember history in short and snappy bumper-sticker sound bites. Real life is a bit more complicated.

Columbus “discovered” a “New World” that was new to him anyway, not to the people who already lived in it.

Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation did free slaves in the states that seceded. He had to prod, cajole, bribe and browbeat Congress to free the rest.

And the Rev. Dr. King did have a “dream” that he described eloquently at the historic March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom 50 years ago. But more important, he had an agenda.

He described his dream so powerfully and memorably in the concluding portion of his 16-minute speech that it has been too easy for the rest of us to forget the agenda that he laid out in the earlier part.

That’s understandable. The magnetic invitation of King’s majestic words, delivered with a drumbeat refrain of “I have a dream...,” quite properly deserves a top-shelf position in the canon of American oratory.

With generous references to the Gettysburg Address, the Emancipation Proclamation, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, King grounded his speech, not in radical notions of social change but as a fulfillment of the nation’s founders’ noblest ideals. His dream, as he put it, was “as old as the American dream.”

And the story of how its closing “dream” refrain almost didn’t happen has become legendary in civil rights circles. As Clarence B. Jones, who helped King draft speeches, describes it, King had major-megaton case of writer’s block over how to end his speech. He was the final speaker of the day and wanted to leave his audiences -- on the Washington Mall, in the White House and in homes across America -- inspired. But how?

Text Only
Opinion
  • Lindley, Tom.jpg Basketball stars may linger on campus a while longer

    The NBA seems serious about raising its minimum age, which could signal the end of the one-and-done era in college basketball.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Race card season again? After years of mostly hedging any suggestion that racism has anything to do with President Barack Obama's ferocious opposition, there's a new racial etiquette in town. Top Democrats are slipping off the kid gloves. "To a significant extent, the Repub

    April 21, 2014

  • Report suggests a reasonable approach Illinois has long had the most units of government in the nation - 6,963 at last count. Do we need so many taxing districts to provide governmental services across the Land of Lincoln? Supporters and opponents of the status quo can both find somethin

    April 21, 2014

  • Stand up against child abuse April is National Child Abuse Month and I would like to take a moment to share that our children are precious and Clinton County has one of the highest in the state when it comes to children who have been abused. You are able to check the statistics

    April 19, 2014

  • Bills to move quickly in final days Tuesday marks the 100th and last day of this scheduled session. After Tuesday, clerks will be sent home and legislators driving and living expenses will no longer be paid by the state. That usually means remaining legislation and Fiscal Year 2015 bu

    April 19, 2014

  • Reducing money's influence in politics The (Crystal Lake) Northwest Herald There's no doubt that money influences politics -- in big ways. Big money influences politics in even bigger ways, sometimes leading to corruption. That's why there are federal caps on the amount of money someone c

    April 19, 2014

  • Looking for love in all the wrong places This classic Dear Margo column was published in April 2008. DEAR MARGO: I'm 30 years old and have been married to an incredible, loving, caring man for 10 years. We have a beautiful family and we adore our children. Our sex life was pretty boring at

    April 19, 2014

  • Letter to the Editor: Local firefighters' union speaks out on proposed contract

    Dear citizens/taxpayers of Clinton:
    The members of Local 609 feel that it is our duty to inform the citizens of Clinton that the article titled “‘Fair offer’ differences” in the April 9, 2014 edition of the Clinton Herald was full of inaccurate statements regarding our negotiated contract proposal with the city. These incorrect statements could impact the use of your city funds negatively and unduly influence our elected representatives. So, we would like to address these points, as follows:

    April 18, 2014

  • Local firefighters' union speaks out on proposed contract Dear citizens/taxpayers of Clinton: The members of Local 609 feel that it is our duty to inform the citizens of Clinton that the article titled "'Fair offer' differences" in the April 9, 2014 edition of the Clinton Herald was full of inaccurate state

    April 18, 2014

  • The lesson of 'Camp David' The line between determination and delusion can be obscure. Sometimes, the distinction emerges only in retrospect, like a Polaroid image slowly appearing. In other instances, the difference between productive grit and self-defeating obsession is an a

    April 18, 2014

Poll

With the Clinton County Justice Coordinating Commission and the Clinton County Board of Supervisors discussing proposals to construct a new jail, do you think the time has come for Clinton County to construct such a facility?

Yes
No
     View Results
Facebook