Thursday, August 28, 2008

August 28, 1963

Forty-five years ago today:

Finishing his prepared remarks, he seemed ready to sit down, when Mahalia Jackson called out from behind him, "Tell them about your dream, Martin! Tell them about the dream!"

James T. Patterson, Grand Expectations: The United States, 1945–1974 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996), 483
If you've never read or heard it, now's the time:

I Have a Dream (InfoUSA)
I Have a Dream (YouTube)

comments: 5

JuliaR said...

I didn't know that great speech was not prepared! Even now, it gives me goosebumps to listen to it. He was only 39 when he was killed. 39! What might he have accomplished in later years? I guess the positive legacy of the tragedy is that others got together to carry the torch for him.

JuliaR said...

I watched the YouTube version again just now and I don't see that there is a gap or hesitation before the beginning of the Dream part. Maybe that was just editing? But really, it doesn't matter because it's great in any event.

Michael Leddy said...

Hi Julia,

I looked for any evidence that Mahalia Jackson's role is a matter of mythology but could find none. It does sound as though the speech might be coming to an end ("Continue to work," "Go back," and so on). And then the syntax seems a little jumbled: "I say to you today my friends — so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream," as if a sentence is being adjusted on the spot. But that's just my speculation, and if I hadn't read about Mahalia Jackson's role, I'd never have imagined that what follows was not prepared.

Matt Thomas said...

What interests me most about this is that it comes from James T. Patterson's Grand Expectations. This is a book I've been thinking about buying and reading for some time now. Ditto its sequel, Restless Giant. Does this post constitute an endorsement of Patterson's work?

Michael Leddy said...

Hi Matt,

I can't claim any real expertise about this book — I just went looking for a respected source for details. But Patterson's work has plenty of endorsements that seem trustworthy. : )