Monday, January 21, 2019

Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have A Dream Speech" is A Nightmare

Martin Luther King Jr.
By Robert Wenzel

Martin Luther King Jr. was a great orator.

He could string words together in a way that could move the heart and soul. I'm sure that some who heard him speak, at one time or another, even experienced their deoxyribonucleic acid dancing.

On Wednesday, August 28, 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his "I Have A Dream Speech" before an estimated 250,000 people in Washington D.C. The occasion was the black "March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom."

King understood the potential importance of the speech and indicated so in his first words:
 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 speech was immediately hailed upon completion. James Reston of The New York Times wrote that the “pilgrimage was merely a great spectacle” until King’s turn.

During the speech, King quickly turned to the notion that there was some kind of social contract created by the Founding Fathers where Americans owed blacks, even though many signers of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution owned slaves:
In a sense we have 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 men, yes, black men as well as white men, 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 color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people 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. So we have 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 segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quick sands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.
The truth is that many people have gotten the short end of the stick throughout history, and American blacks, especially slaves certainly did. But no group ever "cashed a check" from "great vaults of opportunity" to advance. This was the start of King using his rhetorical skills to lead the 250,000 that day in Washington D.C. down the wrong path and which has continued to lead many down the wrong path. It was a powerful speech.

But I must recognize that  he did point out uncivil behavior toward blacks at the time:
We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied, as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities...We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating “For Whites Only”. 
But he also admitted, unlike many blacks today, that these actions were not the actions of all white people:
The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. They have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.
And then it started. Rhetoric without a solution. Rhetoric without a handbook. Rhetoric that moved the masses but without a particular ideological path other than some kind of hope for a future "freedom," despite the fact he and 250,000 others mostly black were free to travel to Washington D.C. and rally against the regime:
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, 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 are created equal.”

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.
And it continued:
 I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, 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. This is the faith that I go back to the South 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 brotherhood. 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 if America is to be a great nation this must become true. 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 snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California!

But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, 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, 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!”
And that was it. He left 250,000 mostly black people, with his powerful rhetoric, and only the message that he had a dream.

There was nothing about how to accomplish this dream. Presumably, because they were in Washington D.C. and at the start of the speech he talked about "cashing a check" from "great vaults of opportunity,"  there was an implication that if blacks were loud enough the government would hand them the dream (with interest!).

How naive. With that "guidance," black generations have lived a nightmare as politicians sensing an opportunity regularly have promised blacks the MLK dream of a cashed check in the form of handouts (in return for their vote). The cashed checks have resulted in large segments of the black community being poorly educated, unemployed and many in jail. In return, they receive small amounts of cash and subsidized housing handouts that keep them at the poverty level.

King in his speech said nothing about hard work, he said nothing about studying hard, he said nothing about having to overcome adversities at a personal level. It was all about some poorly defined dream that many in modern day America interpret to mean the literal handing-out and cashing of government-issued checks.

This despite the fact that King, himself, was generally an outstanding student. He skipped both the ninth and the twelfth grades of high school. He received his bachelor's degree from Morehouse College and later a Phd from Boston University (It was later determined that parts of King's dissertation were plagiarized).

MLK's dream is a nightmare. No one, except crony politicians and their controls, gets anything worthwhile out of government.

You succeed by being tough, fighting personal adversity, studying hard and working hard. I know a few blacks that get this but not many. Like I said, MLK was a powerful speaker and some, on his advice, are still waiting for the government to cash a make-believe check that will hand them enough money to cruise on easy street.

Robert Wenzel is Editor & Publisher of


  1. That's it! Martin Luther King Jr was a wizard! Owen Benjamin had a great show on exactly your point. Excellent.

  2. King, however, spoke out forcefully against the Vietnam War. It was Malcolm X who advocated self discipline hard work, and independence as the road blacks should take. And he was a role model.

    The initial goal of the civil rights movement in the 1950’s was the elimination of enforced segregation, i.e. the Jim Crow laws. Unfortunately enforced segregation was replaced with enforced integration, the dire consequences of which we are faced with today.

    1. Spot on point about Malcolm X! Its funny the propaganda that swirls around charisma.