op-ed

LITANY: Americans Need To Hear Martin Luther King, Jr.’s ‘I Have a Dream’ Speech Again and Again

In life, there are times when a lesson must be repeated for understanding, growth and, ultimately, for application. The repetition could be due to an individual’s seemingly resistant nature to hearing it — and their acceptance it upon hearing it. Or the repetition of the lesson may be needed due to the inability of learners to grasp the instruction because they have not seen evidence for the validity of the message. Whatever the case may be, it must be acknowledged that the reiteration of any particular life-changing message is required until actual comprehension occurs.

Where would Christianity be if not for its adherents living by and spreading the words of Jesus? Would there even be a United States of America if the Founding Fathers did not believe in a cohesive message of liberty and equality for all and a particular way of governing themselves?

So, hearing things over and over again can easily become a nuisance, but it can be more than necessary if there is a truth that is determined to be ultimately beneficial despite it not being accepted without reluctance. A case can be made for this manifesting in the continued playing of Dr. Martin Luther King’s famous words to a crowd of thousands back on August 28, 1963. It is easy to get tired of hearing King’s “I Have a Dream” speech or only viewing it as routine for the time of year. But true reflection is necessary. From January (the month of King’s birth) to February (“Black History Month”) through April (the month of King’s death), the legendary speech can be heard in segments or in its totality. Nevertheless, the words continue to deserve a hearing because many people still have not quite captured its genius in ways. There are lessons to still be learned, specifically, a thought he had on judging people by the color of their skin.

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.

King knew that a part of the problem in his day was that skin color brought with it a certain stigma, which was really indicative of the bigoted worldview of the times. He believed and hoped for a day when his children, and all people, would be judged on the merits of their own character — character defined as the mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual. So, one’s color should not be the principal aspect that others assess and determine their worth by.

How unfortunate it is that people’s pigmentation is still causing problems even today. Now, race is seen from the collectivist mindset as one’s identity is tied up in their race and the experience of another that shares one’s skin color is supposed to be the experience of all with matching skin. It is why ‘white privilege‘ is argued as a very real issue in our country, even for Caucasian people who have never felt any actual privilege in their lives or have had to work just as hard as their counterparts who are minorities. (Not to make fun of people’s genuine concern, but, yes, there is a conference for it). (RELATED: TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE: Are These Workshops From A Ku Klux Klan Rally Or A White Privilege Conference?)

There are those who play up identity politics and see identities wrapped in skin color or being almost completely associated with it. Then, their logic becomes the melanin in your skin will determine how you vote and sometimes reveal your worldview. Dr. Michael Liccione explains why identity politics is virulent to all of us in the long run.

Surely, it would do us the most good to judge an individual completely off of their own behavior and motives. Every person’s identity is not immediately visible. It takes getting to know them, since their identity can be instigated by a philosophy or a religion. Until our society remembers this particular truth, the ‘I Have a Dream’ speech should continue to be played. Consequently, it will do society even better if a discussion was initiated in classrooms and other forums each time it is revisited.

Jerome Danner is a member of Project 21, an initiative of The National Center for Public Policy Research. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook for more of his thoughts and commentary. For more of Jerome’s writing, please check out his website.


The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.