I have a dreamSixty years ago, a new phrase entered the English language. Like other well-known sayings, whether from Shakespeare, Churchill, the Bible and elsewhere, Martin Luther King’s proclamation on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC would always be remembered. ‘I have a dream.’

After years of non-violent campaigning, the Civil Rights movement was steadily dismantling the bricked-up wall of apartheid and on 28th August 1963, a quarter of a million people gathered in the American capital. There were many other speeches that day and people like Mahalia Jackson, the gospel singer was there too. Indeed, it was her who urged Martin Luther King to include the bit about the dream – so on the day, he improvised. Do take time to read or to listen – it is remarkable.

He had a dream. It was a dream about justice and freedom. A dream that all people will ‘live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.’

His words and actions, together with those of others, led to change but in less than five years he was dead, assassinated the day after he gave another speech: one which included the painfully prophetic words, ‘I may not get there with you.’

In his Lincoln Memorial speech, King quotes twice from scripture: ‘(We will not be satisfied) until justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.’ (Amos 5:24). ‘(I have a dream that) 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. (Isaiah 40:4-5). Words steeped in the message about God’s desire for justice and freedom for all. But what also strikes me is that his ‘dream’ was rooted in reality – it was not to be some further, empty ‘promissory note’ as he called the American government’s attempts. This was a dream whose aim was to be achievable.

In the intervening years, government-sanctioned apartheid has diminished but racism still exists. And not just in America but here in the UK also. ‘Institutional racism’ has been found in many organisations from the police to cricket clubs and, alas, also in the church. Racist attacks and murders have continued, such as that against Stephen Lawrence and the still unsolved killing in 1959 of Kelso Cochrane. White supremacists are still active but the work of Black Lives Matter and others continues to aim to bring justice, healing and freedom to Black people across the globe. King’s dream may not have yet reached its fulfilment but the ‘bright day of justice’ is emerging.

I have always held an admiration for Martin Luther King and, in many ways, I don’t know why (it even forms part of the storyline in Looking to Move On). But time and again, his passion and striving for justice and freedom for the oppressed, grounded as it was in the Christian faith, retain a magnetic draw. It would be an exaggeration to say he is ‘my hero’ but for me there is no one else who comes anywhere near to deserving that epithet.

Reflecting on his achievements and his words makes one think about our own dreams and aspirations and what inspires our passion. Many of us will not ‘change the world’ in the way Martin Luther King did but all of us can (and probably have) made a difference in the day to day life of another person.

Like King, I believe our own dreams are also to be realistic and achievable. So, whatever our situation and whatever our influence, we can all think on the words he spoke and maybe each of us can complete the phrase for ourselves…

‘I have a dream…


If you’d like to, please add what you would say to the post in the Facebook group or drop me an email.


Thank you for reading this post – please do share it with others, subscribe and contribute your thoughts at the WorkRestPray Facebook Group or follow on Twitter, Threads and Instagram

Details of books are available at richardfrostauthor.com.

Photo: Encyclopædia Britannica