Wednesday, August 28, marks the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legendary “I Have A Dream” speech.
Drew Hansen’s THE DREAM: Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Speech that Inspired A Nation, is the authoritative book on this speech.
This scholarly, yet thoroughly accessible tribute to the distinguished career and prophetic vision of Martin Luther King, Jr. has been called “a great contribution to
the history of the movement” by Representative John Lewis and “the best book in more than a decade on the movement’s best-known leader” by Pulitzer Prize-winner David Garrow.
Author Drew Hansen is available for interviews to discuss the “I Have A Dream” speech. Hansen can talk about the behind-the-scenes story of how King wrote and delivered his most famous speech, the reactions to the speech both at the time and in the decades since, and the reasons why King’s speech was so powerful.
The story begins with a brisk yet comprehensive account of King’s early career in Montgomery, Alabama --as pastor and reluctant head of the Montgomery bus boycott -- and the events leading up to the March on Washington (August 28, 1963). After a gripping re-enactment of the event -- which brought 250,000 by-and-large black Americans together, in front of the Lincoln Memorial, THE DREAM proceeds to an unprecedented and fascinating analysis of the speech itself, which contrasts King’s prepared speech with the one he delivered, and examines the final product on various levels; as a political treatise, a work of poetry, and a masterfully delivered and improvised sermon bursting with biblical imagery.
While the opening chapters invoke the great successes of King’s career and uphold the traditional dual image of King as champion of civil rights and great visionary/man-of-faith, the book pays comparable attention to the self-acknowledged failures of Kings later years -- following the March, until his death in 1968. As the civil rights movement in the mid to late sixties began to suffer demoralizing setbacks, blacks across America, including other civil rights leaders, began to lose faith in King’s vision -- delivered with his speech at the March -- of an America in which “black men and white men...[would] be able to join hands.” As the author shows, King himself had all but lost faith in his vision, but never in God or the eventual salvation of his people, whether in this life or the next.
Towards the end, the author examines the speech in its resurgence after King’s assassination. He draws attention to the ways in which the speech transfigured King’s image after his death. THE DREAM concludes with an insightful series of reflections on how the speech, beyond reshaping King’s image, “has slowly remade the American imagination.”
Date Recorded: 8/27/2013
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