Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. was praised by President Barack Obama as being a man who “beckoned us toward justice through non-violent resistance and oratory skill” on Friday.
President Obama’s words were released in a White House proclamation for the federal holiday granted in honor of the Christian minister and civil rights icon, and included mention of the most famous message given on August 28, 1963, at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., by Dr. King.
“When the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., shared his dream with the world atop the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, he gave mighty voice to our founding ideals.”
The President added that “[a]lthough we do not face the same challenges that spurred the Civil Rights Movement, the fierce urgency of now — and the need for persistence, determination, and constant vigilance — is still required for us to meet the complex demands and defeat the injustices of our time.”
Noting that the minister has since been memorialized in stone and can be viewed “standing tall and gazing outward, not far from where he stirred our collective conscience to action,” President Obama also stated that Dr. King’s example “has proven that those who love their country can change it.”
Obama warned against dishonoring “the courage of all who marched and struggled” in America.
“Those who dismiss the magnitude of the progress that has been made dishonor the courage of all who marched and struggled to bring about this change — and those who suggest that the great task of extending our Nation’s promise to every individual is somehow complete neglect the sacrifices that made it possible,” the President stated. “Dr. King taught us that ‘The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of convenience and comfort, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.'”
For those who didn’t know, King was re-named by his father for the great Protestant reformer, according to the information which can be found on The King Center, the family’s website.
The information given includes the fact that “he was born Michael King on January 15, 1929, and a few years later, his father, also Michael King, changed his name to Martin Luther King, Sr., in honor of the great protestant reformer, and his son’s name was also changed to Martin Luther King, Jr.”
Martin Luther King Jr.’s most famous speech, the one given at the Lincoln Memorial in D.C.can be found online. According to the text of his message from the King Center, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke about having a dream in 1963.
In that speech, Reverend King warned the crowd about not getting discouraged in the face of present and future difficulties.
“Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends. And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.”
Of course, there is also a short video clip available from YouTube, but if anyone wants to hear the entire speech by Rev. King, apparently a licensed copy must be purchased (on DVD) from the King family per the information from the Washington Post.
Here are a few of the most memorable lines from Rev. King’s speech.
“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. I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.
“I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice. I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today!”
Another tidbit of information: apparently a bust of Martin Luther King Jr. exists in the White House and back in 2013, radio host Tavis Smiley suggested that President Barack Obama should remove it “… because of the president’s willingness to go to war with Syria,” per the information from CNC News. Reverend King, it was perhaps conjectured, would dialog with people more, choose non-violence and not go to war.
Remembering some of these important words spoken by Reverend King might be difficult, but fortunately the King Center has the speech online. The federal government also keeps a copy in their digital archives.
Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. was born in 1929, according to the information on the Penn State website. “Early in his life, Reverend King recognized the evils of segregation and racial prejudice,” it says there. “He was an outstanding student throughout his years in school and went on to receive his Bachelor of Divinity degree in June of 1951.”
[Featured Image by J. Scott Applewhite/AP Images]