In response to, in praise of, and in unison with the #YesAllWomen hashtag, this is my reworking of MLK’s iconic “I Have a Dream” speech – a 2.0, if you will. And that’s because the lasting principles behind this speech went so much farther than just black people, and have deep resonance and significance for everyone to this day. Take the time to watch the real thing, too, as MLK kills it for 18 minutes straight. This is our vision for a better world. _____________________________________________________________________________________________
I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.
The woman is still is not free. In our present day, the life of women is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. In our present day, the woman lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. In our present day, the woman is still languished in the corners of American society and finds herself an exile in her own land. And so we’ve come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.
In a sense we’ve come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. 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 women, yes, white women as well as black women, fat women as well as skinny women, 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 the second sex are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given women a bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.”
But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt.
We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so, we’ve come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.
We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of male violence and discrimination to the sunlit path of gender justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of gender injustice to the solid rock of community. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.
It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the woman’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. #YesAllWomen is not an end, but a beginning. And those who hope that the women needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. And there will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the woman is granted her citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.
But there is something that I must say to my people, who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice: In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.
The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the female community must not lead them to a distrust of all men, for many of our brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom.
We cannot walk alone.
And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead.
We cannot turn back.
There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “When will you be satisfied?” We can never be satisfied as long as women are the victims of the unspeakable horrors of police negligence. We can never be satisfied as long as their bodies, heavy with the fatigue of a hard day’s work, are subject to scrutiny and harassment all the way home. We cannot be satisfied as long as the woman’s basic mobility is from a larger group of rapists to a smaller one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their self-hood and robbed of their dignity by sayings like: “Boys will be boys” or “She was asking for it.” We cannot be satisfied as long as a women in Mississippi cannot report a rape, and a woman in New York believes she has no reason to.
No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until “justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.”
I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from enduring internet trolls. And some of you have come from areas where your quest — quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police negligence. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive. Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed.
Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends.
And 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 and women are created equal.”
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, our daughters and sons will live in a world where a woman’s rejection does not justify a man’s violence.
I have a dream that one day even the Youtube comments section, an area 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 biology of their bodies but by the content of their character.
I have a dream today!
I have a dream that one day, #NotAllMen, with its vicious sexists, with its constituents having their lips dripping with the words of “failed futures” for men and “exaggerations” by women — one day right there in #Notallmen, real men will stand up and say that entitlement is never an option. And girls and boys will be able to join hands with dignity and respect as sisters and brothers.
I have a dream today!
I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and 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, and this is the faith that I go back home 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 community. 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.
And this will be the day — this will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with 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.
And 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 snow-capped Rockies of Colorado.
Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California.
But not only that: Let freedom ring from every internet message board.
Let freedom ring from every church’s pews.
Let freedom ring from every police department.
From every political podium, let freedom ring.
And when this happens, and when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, from every home and every parent, when we learn to teach our boys to be men instead of teaching our girls how to avoid rape, when we stop assuming that half of rape stories are fabricated, when we abolish double standards for men and women, 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, men and women, 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!
For the real deal, check out MLK in the video below, along with the actual transcript of the speech.
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