This is the first of two articles on the 50th Anniversary of Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" speech
Next week August 28th, 2013 will be the 50th anniversary of the March On Washington For Jobs and Freedom. It was at the March, at the foot of the Lincoln Memorial, that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his celebrated " I Have A Dream" speech.
As described in greater detail in BEHIND THE DREAM: The Making of The Speech That Transformed A Nation, as Dr. King's personal lawyer, political adviser and draft speechwriter, I was standing approximately 50 feet behind the Dr. King when he spoke.
The University of San Francisco has produced the audio version of BEHIND THE DREAM. It will be available on August 28th, 2013 here. Fifty percent of the proceeds from online sales are earmarked for the USF Center For The Prevention of Violence and Conflict Resolution. The Center is being created in commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" speech.
There has been and continues go be extensive media coverage of the 50th Anniversary of the March On Washington For Jobs and Freedom. Recently, at a Conference of "Scientists and Sages" convened by the Deepak Chropra Foundation and last night at the University of San Francisco, I spoke about the challenges that the 50th Anniversary of Dr. King's "Dream" present to us. Recited below are excerpts from my speeches:
"The 'Legacy' of Martin Luther King Jr.' commitment to non-violence remains unequivocal and unambiguous. This legacy is predicated on his belief that our ability to survive, internationally and domestically, is limited to only two choices: non-violence or non-existence, non-violence or co-annihilation."
"As we gather here only a few days before the 50th Anniversary of the his call to us to dream to be the best that we can be, when will WE rise up, in one loud collective voice and say, ONCE AND FOR ALL that the CHOICE OF VIOLENCE IS NOT AN OPTION to resolve the inevitable disputes and conflicts that will occur among us in society. The defining issue TODAY is not those rights and protections guaranteed under the Second Amendment to our Constitution. No, it's not the Second Amendment, but the moral injunction of the Sixth of The Biblical Commandments: THOU SHALL NOT KILL.
"Notwithstanding the innovative progress in diagnostic medicine and treatment of illnesses, advances in the technology of communications, in terrestrial travel and in outer space, and in the production of food and shelter, THE existential challenge of the 21st Century is whether or not we will commit ourselves to current and future policies of governance that encourage and foster violence or non-violence as the rational choice for resolving of disputes between nations and people."
"Our nation is awash in guns. Guns are the leading cause of death in America. There are more guns in America than people."
"This is the background canvas against which the disease of violence continues to spread largely unabated throughout many communities in our nation today. In too many instances violence lies like molten lave beneath the surface of our society, just waiting to erupt. We can choose to be bystanders, cover our eyes and ears, or become pro-active to meet the challenge that Dr. King's legacy commitment to non-violence presents to us."
The speaker who spoke immediately before Dr. King at the foot of the Lincoln Memorial nearly 50 years ago was Rabbi Joachim Prinz of The American Jewish Congress, one of the participating sponsor organizations of the March On Washington. Part of what Rabbi Prinz said then is just as relevant and timely today.
"When I was the rabbi of the Jewish community in Berlin under the Hitler regime, I learned many things. The most important thing that I learned under those tragic circumstances was that bigotry and hatred are not the most urgent problem. The most urgent, the most disgraceful, the most shameful and the most tragic problem is silence." (Emphasis added)
The greatest 2013 threat to the legacy of Dr. King's "Dream" today are the silence, inaction, and failure to register and vote by those people who so loudly proclaim their commitment to his "Dream."
Stay tuned for part two.