Remembering Martin Luther King, Jr.: “I Have a Dream” and Letter from a Birmingham Jail


Every year on this day set aside for celebrating the life and legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr., I make time to listen to or read his famous “I Have a Dream Speech.” I encourage you today to read the speech or watch (below) the roughly seventeen-minute speech that King gave over fifty years ago. He articulates a vision that transcends his individual life and puts into eloquent words the deepest longings of many people not only then but also now. This speech still rings with power, reminding us that, as he said, “Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning.” We have come so far but we still have so far to go.

I encourage you to go further in understanding Dr. King’s legacy by reading his 1963 “Letter from Birmingham Jail” or to read some of his prayers (two examples can be found here and here). You may also be challenged and encouraged by Frederick Douglass’ 1852 speech “The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro.” Here is a collect from The Book of Common Prayer related to King’s life and legacy:

Almighty God, by the hand of Moses your servant you led your people out of slavery, and made them free at last: Grant that your church, following the example of your prophet Martin Luther King, may resist oppression in the name of your love, and may strive to secure for all your children the blessed liberty of the Gospel of Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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