Tuesday, August 28, 2007

August 28, 1963

With all of the "reality television"-esque news stories being shoved down our throats these days, let's not forget that on this day in 1963, in front of over 250,000 people who attended the March on Washington, Martin Luther King, Jr. made his historic, "I have a dream" speech.

Here is the end of that speech. We'll all heard parts of it. Read this. And take it in as if this was the first time you've ever seen it...

I say to you today, my friends, 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.

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.

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with a new meaning, "My country, 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim's pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring."

And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!

Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California!

But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, 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 hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, "Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"

Where is our present-day Martin Luther King, Jr.? Where is our present-day Harvey Milk?

I'm not saying he or she isn't out there; I'm saying if you know where he or she is, tell me. I want to know so that I can listen and learn and follow and fight.


Lance Noe said...

I agree with you little Stevie. Where is our King? Our Malcolm X? Our Harvey Milk?

But then again, they were all killed... so maybe....

I do wish I had more balls and lived in America. I think I would start to become an activist. As of late I have become more and more feed up with the injustice I see in my country.

Sadly, I too would be killed and I am too honest, I too much of a spitfire. We need some one who is powerful and likable and not threatening, like King. I am not that man. I think I would end up being more like Malcolm X.

I was never a fan of the radical fag group ACT UP but lately I have become much more enamored of their fire, their convictions and their lack of fear.

Then again, these tactics would only scary the straights more.

I love the drag queens, if it weren't for them we wouldn't be anywhere near where we are now, but I think the times have changed.

I know I will get backlash from this, but until we stop showing the world, through parades and news articles, that we are more than drag queens, leather men, and half naked party boys; they will never respect us.

Some say we are different. We make love different, we have a different culture and that is what we are celebrating. YEAH FOR US!

I pray for the day when there is a parade where there are not costumes, no showmanship. Where gay men and women walk down the street in jeans and a t-shirt and the world WILL ACTUALLY SEE we ARE the same. We aren't the stereotypes they think we are.

We keep preaching "we are the same as you!" but this is not the image we put out.

When is our Attica? Where is our next Stonewall? Who is our King? What can be done? Why are we not doing something? How can we do it peacefully, respectfully and lovingly?

I want justice, my rights as a human and the respect that goes with both.

I don't want to demand that respect, I want to earn it!

To end my soapbox dissertation I will quote Mr. King.

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."

Stephen Rader said...

Lance - I think that last quote answered everything in your comment. My father often asks me why I care most about gay and lesbian issues and I have to remind him that, until the the time comes when gay and lesbian issues are no longer "issues," I will be concerned about them, talk about them, scream about them, write about them and care more about them than I do other issues. Because I'm gay.

Thanks for the Martin Luther King, Jr. quote.

Jackie said...

Good remembering and reflecting.
Wonderful quote!

whimsicalnbrainpan said...

I'm afraid that people like that just don't exist anymore. They tend to get assassinated anyway.

CS said...

I can never read or hear this speech without getting a lump in my throat. I think we've reached a state where we've made real progress on civil rights (race, generder, orientation, etc) and people have lost sight of the fatc that we still have a very long way to go.

Master Aaron said...

As much as possible, given that we have never met, I adore The Lance. And, as the only obvious leather-person frequenting these parts and leaving a trail, I'll add my perspective on his thoughtful ruminations and ask you all to bear in mind that I don't consider it "backlash." I agree that we are all the same. But "the same" that we all are is more like leather-person-me than those from whom some covet respect. Because, if I've learned anything in my last 200 years, it's that we're all a little "queer," each in our own gorgeous way. So if, and when, I walk in parades in my leather...or down the street for that matter, in broad daylight, as I often do...it is my hope that my other-ness might help some folk to think about the fact that we are all the same...but differently than main-stream American might expect. Hey, when you've spanked as many white, married executives living in the suburbs as I have, maybe it's easier to look them in the eye on the street. And now children, let's hold hands and recite the prayer of Saint Luisa of The Holy Order of The Fantasticks!: "I am special. I am special. Please, God, please, don't let me be normal."

Stephen Rader said...

Jackie - Thank you so much! Great blog you've got!

Whim - Maybe those people do exist nowadays, but we so overly concerned with AMERICAN IDOL or why Lindsay is wearing an ankle bracelet that we might miss them. Or over look them. That will change, though. It has to.

CS - We do have a long way to go, yet isn't it amazing to look back and see how far we've come? I know that for gay people, the progress in the last 10 years has been staggering. Still a long way to go, but at least we're moving forward, not backward.

Master Aaron - "I'd like to swim in a clear, blue stream where the water is icy cold. Then, go to town in a golden gown and have my fortune told. Just once. Just once."

Wow, that Luisa. She had it right.

Excellent points. And when it comes right down to it - - whether it's leather or drag or an Armani suit - - it's all a costume. It's our way of expressing ourself, who we are, who we want, who we wish to be - - all of it.

And for all those straighty-straights gay boys out there who look down upon us nelly queers, I quote Sterling from JEFFREY...

"OOooo. Get her!"