Fifty years ago today, a 34 year old Georgia preacher mounted the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, took the microphone, and—before a crowd of more than a quarter million people—fixed his place in American history. The Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech is considered one of the most important—and successful—orations in American history. It was the capstone event of 1963’s “March on Washington,” a political demonstration calling for civil and economic rights for African Americans, the poor, and the disenfranchised.
King’s message of fairness and equality was deeply-rooted in his Christian beliefs. He was convinced that non-violent civil disobedience was the most effective—and morally correct—tool available to an oppressed people. He moved his people and he moved a nation. Less than five years later, he would be shot and killed.
Half a century later, some progress has been made, certainly. Other goals are yet to be achieved. Nevertheless, the reverend remains one of the greatest and most-respected leaders in our nation’s history.