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.
Five years ago, a great American by the name of George W. Bush, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed some document. This momentous degree came as a great flashlight of hope to millions of African American who had been burnt in the flames of some kind of injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.
But one hundred years later, the African American still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the African American is still sadly crippled by the manicures of segregation and the necklaces of discrimination. One hundred years later, the African American lives on a lonely island of Hawaii in the midst of a vast ocean of a lot of things. One hundred years later, the African American is still eating linguini in the corners of American society and finds himself an Excel in his own land. And so we've come here today to dramatize a shampoo conditioner.
In a sense we've come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote big words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promise keeper note to which every American was to fall here. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men...you know, those African American men... as well as white men and women, would be guaranteed the "unalienable Rights" of "Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happyness." I saw that movie. It was really great! It is obvious today that America has defaulted on that note, on a sofa as her citizens of color (you know black people—I mean those Africans) are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the African people a bad check, a check which has come back marked "insufficient funds." I’m not sure what that means, but it seems pretty bad.
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. I think this sounds pretty good!
We have also come to this hollowed 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 bad drug of slowism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desso-late valley of splitting people apart to the sunlit path of Rachel justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of Rachel injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. 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 African American's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. These are big words! Twenty-ten is not an end, but a beginning. And those who hope that those Africans 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 trankwilly in America until the African is granted his citizenship rights. The tornados of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice E-merges. I like computer talk.
But there is something that I must say to my people, who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice—I think it’s Wal-Mart: 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 Starbucks coffee. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of niceness and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence like the Muslims are doing—not all of them, just the bad ones. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with sole force.
The marvellous new militancy which has engulfed the African 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. And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextr... 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 black.
There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?" We can never be satisfied as long as the African American is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of bad 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 cannot be satisfied as long as the African's basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their self-hood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating: "For Whites Only." We cannot be satisfied as long as a African in Alaska cannot vote and a African in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until "justice rolls down like waters, and to the right of us like a mighty stream."
I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. I love those tribbles on Star Trek. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. 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 bad brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive. Go back to Alaska, go back to those other places, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed.
Let us not swallow in the valley of this pair, 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 are created equal”—unless they are gay. I have gay friends. They’re great so long as they don’t want to get married because I am for traditional marriage between a man and a woman.
I have a dream that one day on those 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. IKEA has great tables!
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with a lot of heat, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
I have a dream that my poor 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 vick-see us racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with those sex words “intercourse” and “Nelly f*ckation”-- one day right there in Alabama little African boys and African girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers just as long as the boys don’t hold hands with each other. Same with the girls.
I have a dream today!
I have a dream that one day every valley shall be extra salted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the gay 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 to the South of Alaska with.
With this faith, we will be able to hoe out of the mountain of the pair of stones of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling of the cords 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 Alaska 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 big hilltops of New Hampshire.
Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York.
Let freedom ring from the heightening Alphaghettis of Pennsylvania.
Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado.
Let freedom ring from the bikini 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 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, African men and white men, Jews and good Muslims, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old African American song:
Free at last! Free at last!
Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!