Mae's Real Stories

Memories for Miriam, Alice, Theo, Delia, Tessa and anyone else who would like to be here

Friday, January 05, 2007


Martin Luther King Day

Monday, January 15, is Martin Luther King Day in honor of an American leader: Martin Luther King. When I was a little girl, this holiday didn't exist yet. In fact, when I was a young woman, Martin Luther King was alive and helping to change some important things in American life. In some parts of the country, not all Americans had equal rights to do many things. He and many others said this was not fair, and they began to have marches and to obtain equal rights for people with all different colors of skin.

I heard Martin Luther King make speeches several times, in St. Louis and in Berkeley, California. He was a very wonderful orator: that, is, he gave good speeches. Martin Luther King died just before Evelyn was born, and later America began to celebrate his birthday to remember him and his work.

Martin Luther King really made a difference. In America today, few of the most unfair rules remain. Children can go to any school, adults can get better jobs, and people are much more free than in his lifetime. There is more work to do, but change has happened.

On August 28, 1963 more than 250,000 people, both black and white, came together near the Lincoln Memorial in Washington to rally for "jobs and freedom." Here are some of the words Martin Luther King said to them:
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 my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification - one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls 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.
...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 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, and when we allow freedom 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!"

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