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January 15, 2007

Remember the Dream

"One man come in the name of love -
One man come and go -
One man come, he to justify -
One man to overthrow ... "

-U2, "Pride (In the Name of Love)"

By way of fair warning, this post doesn’t have anything to do with running. It's more like a public service announcement. I’ll try to keep it brief.

Before my 5-year-old daughter headed off to bed last night, she asked us, “How did people know about the dream that Martin had?” Her kindergarten teacher had obviously instilled some faint understanding of today’s holiday in her, but the overall meaning hadn’t entirely sunk in.

So on the way to her bedroom, I stopped at the computer and called her and her 8-year-old brother over. It took me about two seconds to Google a video of Dr King’s speech, and we sat and watched the whole thing.

I hadn’t watched the speech in its entirety in over 10 years, when I had to sign out a VHS video from Powell Library at UCLA, and watch the film in the library’s media center because the videos weren’t allowed off premises. It was a required assignment for my Speech 10 (Introductory Pubic Speaking) class.

So here’s yet another example of why we’re blessed to live in the information age: last night, I watched Dr King’s speech at the 1963 March on Washington with my son and daughter. And so can you. If you do nothing else to recognize today’s holiday, click this link, and spend 15 minutes watching the video. My eyes welled up when I first watched the speech in a cubicle at Powell Library – and last night, I felt the same emotion watching Dr King with my young kids.

Here’s the great thing about the speech: as young as my kids are, they got it. As powerful and passionate as the language is, the meaning is undeniably simple. Dr King wanted freedom where there was oppression. He wanted equality where there was unfairness. He wanted peace where there was discord.

Most importantly, they also understood that we still need these things today. It’s a good reminder for all of us.


Darrell 1/14/07, 11:24 PM  

It always amazes me that the rights Dr. King fought for occured in my lifetime.

Civil rights are so basic, I feel like it is one of those things that should have been resolved a long time ago in our history as a nation, not less than 40 years ago.

Backofpack 1/15/07, 8:01 AM  

I love that your five year old was thinking about the holiday beyond having the day off, and that she asked the question. Even better was your response - instead of the simple "because he told people about it" you took the "teachable moment", delayed bedtime and ran with it. Cool Dad for sure.

You know, brain studies say that learning is tied to emotions - think about what happened with your kids last night. They were gathered around the computer with you, maybe leaning on you, or sitting on your lap, in the comfort and security of their home, watching not only the video of an intense and inspiring speech, but also seeing the interest, intensity and emotion of their father watching it. My guess is that this is a memory and a moment that will stay with them for a lifetime.

And on the King speech itself, it always tears me up. I completely agree with Darrell's comment.

craig 1/15/07, 8:15 AM  

Thanks for the reminder Donald. Dr. King's speech and the assassination of Kennedy are two of the earliest memories I still possess from childhood. I watched a program on the second event last night. And today I'll watch the first through the link you provided.

Anne 1/15/07, 6:06 PM  

I too thank you for bringing the speech to our attention. It's too bad down here the day's been overshadowed by the Golden Globe Awards.

Sarah 1/15/07, 7:49 PM  

Thanks for the link! I just watched it with my 7-yr old.

Ben, aka BadBen 1/16/07, 8:38 AM  

I love that speech. I saw it live on TV, with my mom when I was a kid. (At first we didn't know what to think of it, but we loved the message). My kids were raised knowing that speech.

It's amazing to me how many kids in their twenties (their peers) haven't heard the speech, or know nothing about Dr King, other than Anti-MLK statements stated by Louis Farrakhan and some "ultra-Thug" self-proclaimed "Black Nationalist" rappers. Many kids in their 20s think Dr King was bad for Afro-American progress, because of it.

The "Boondocks" cartoon had a great episode last year. The premise was that Dr King actually wasn't killed, but survived in a coma, and came out of his coma to this modern world. It's sad how the cartoon ends, but I'd like to have a little more hope and belief that humanity will actually prevail over violence and stupidity.

Happy trails,
Bad Ben

matt 1/16/07, 9:49 AM  

I remember being in elementary school as a kid and thinking it was kind of trite to be coloring a mimeograph of his likeness year after year as a tribute. When we were finally "mature" enough to watch his speech on a film reel, it was mindblowing. I think it is great that you are sharing this with your children and have the ability to experience their real-time reactions to it. Thanks for sharing the link. If you have a chance, listen to the podcast from yesterday's episode of Fresh Air on NPR. It features several of his speeches in support of the Memphis Sanitation Worker's Strike. Including one that took place the night before he was shot. The power of these speeches will shake you even more.

Oddly enough, my son just colored his first mimeograph of Dr. King's likeness. I know longer found it to be trite. I guess it isn't too early to touch the little ones out there.

By the way...you will be get a cleaning bill from me. I laughed so hard when I read your 'Tom Brokaw' comment on Ashley's that green tea ended up all over me. You are too funny, Donald.

Ashley 1/16/07, 2:22 PM  

Thanks so much for posting this, Donald. Bloggers are often accused of being insular or self-absorbed (and fair enough, many of us started blogging more for self-reflective reasons than to start a movement) -- but your post today nudged us into a more meaningful experience of what would otherwise have been just another three-day weekend. Thank you!

p.s. your "Dr. Brokaw" comment on my blog totally cracked me up. Thanks!

robtherunner 1/19/07, 9:14 PM  

It's too bad that more progress has not been made since Dr. King's death. This should be required viewing for every student in the United States. A worthy post Donald.

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