I write this on the day that tens of thousands of Americans are gathering on the National Mall to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s I Have A Dream speech—arguably the one of the most important speeches from one of the greatest orators of the 20th century.
Dr. King would deliver a speech five years later that was just as impactful, if not foreboding: His 1968 I’ve Been to the Mountaintop speech in Memphis. In it, Dr. King declares what “this whole thing is about…we are determined to be men. We are determined to be people.” The following day, as he stood on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel, Dr. King was forever silenced.
The National Civil Rights Museum now stands on the spot where this great man fell. It’s been years since I visited, but I still recall the surge of emotions I experienced as the tour reached its final stop: a step inside Room 306, shown as it was on that fateful day, as Mahalia Jackson’s voice swells Take my hand precious Lord, lead me home.