Musician, David Crosby co-wrote a book called Stand and Be Counted about artists and activism. He talks a great deal about concerts and marches for various causes. He, of course, discusses the 1963 March on Washington. Most people think of Kings' "I have a Dream" speech when they think of the March on Washington. In Crosby's book, he talks about how King never intended to include those words in his speech. Apparently, King was to follow a performance of Mahalia Jackson and was so moved by her performance and by the day itself, he had begun to improvise.
The speakers were each limited to seven minutes, including King, but as he began to improvise "his speech took on the cadence he used from the pulpit." He was over the seven minute limit by now and he needed a way to pull the speech to a close. Apparently, he heard Mahalia behind him saying "Tell them about the Dream, Martin!" and so he did.
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the
sons of former slaves and sons of former slave owners will
be able to sit together at the table of brotherhood...
I have a dream 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!
When we allow freedom to ring , when we let it ring from every village
and every hamlet, from every state and every city,
we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children-
black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and
Catholics- will be able to join in the words of the old Negro
spiritual, "Free at last, free at last, thank God Almighty, we are
free at last.
The speech lasted seventeen minutes and was followed with the song, "We Shall Overcome." It was a very hopeful time, but alas, three months later President Kennedy made that fateful trip to Dallas and that hopeful time became less hopeful...
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