The Dreamer: Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. ( January 15, 1929 — April 4, 1968 )
“… Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn’t matter with me now. Because I’ve been to the mountaintop. And I don’t mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people will get to the promised land.” Excerpt from Dr. King’s final speech, “I See the Promised Land/I’ve Been to the Mountain Top,” delivered the night before he was assassinated on the balcony of a Memphis motel.
Yesterday, President Barack Obama spoke at the Vermont Avenue Baptist Church in Washington, DC and remembered The Dreamer.
“We gather here, on a Sabbath, during a time of profound difficulty for our nation and for our world. In such a time, it soothes the soul to seek out the Divine in a spirit of prayer; to seek solace among a community of believers. But we are not here just to ask the Lord for His blessing. We aren’t here just to interpret His Scripture. We’re also here to call on the memory of one of His noble servants, the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. ”
“Now, it’s fitting that we do so here, within the four walls of Vermont Avenue Baptist Church — here, in a church that rose like the phoenix from the ashes of the civil war; here in a church formed by freed slaves, whose founding pastor had worn the union blue; here in a church from whose pews congregants set out for marches and from whom choir anthems of freedom were heard; from whose sanctuary King himself would sermonize from time to time. ”
“We’ve inherited the progress of unjust laws that are now overturned. We take for granted the progress of a ballot being available to anybody who wants to take the time to actually vote. We enjoy the fruits of prejudice and bigotry being lifted — slowly, sometimes in fits and starts, but irrevocably — from human hearts. It’s that progress that made it possible for me to be here today; for the good people of this country to elect an African American the 44th President of the United States of America.”
“Let’s work to change the political system, as imperfect as it is. I know people can feel down about the way things are going sometimes here in Washington. I know it’s tempting to give up on the political process. But we’ve put in place tougher rules on lobbying and ethics and transparency — tougher rules than any administration in history. It’s not enough, but it’s progress. Progress is possible. Don’t give up on voting. Don’t give up on advocacy. Don’t give up on activism. There are too many needs to be met, too much work to be done. Like Dr. King said, “We must accept finite disappointment but never lose infinite hope.”
The full text of the President’s remarks in remembrance of Dr. King and his dream on The White House Blog.