From Martin Luther King, Jr., for Independence Day


Martin Luther King, Jr. believed in the American story, even though that story was not yet true for many of its people. He quoted mlkihaveadreamgogofrom our founding documents, and beloved songs, and called us to deliver on the American promise. Here are just a few key excepts, a few of the times he beckoned us to remember our promises.

From I Have a Dream, Washington, D.C., August 28, 1963

When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the “unalienable Rights” of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.”

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.”

 

SelmaFrom Address at the Conclusion of the Selma to Montgomery March — March 25, 1965

I know you are asking today, “How long will it take?”…
How long? Not long, because:
Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord;
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;
He has loosed the fateful lightning of his terrible swift sword;
His truth is marching on.
He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat;
He is sifting out the hearts of men before His judgment seat.
O, be swift, my soul, to answer Him! Be jubilant my feet!
Our God is marching on.
Glory, hallelujah!
Glory, hallelujah!
Glory, hallelujah! Glory, hallelujah!
His truth is marching on.

 

From “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” – Memphis, Tennessee – April 3, 1968

Martin Luther King Jr., speaking on the last night of his life
Martin Luther King Jr., speaking on the last night of his life

All we say to America is, “Be true to what you said on paper.”

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