Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. will forever be remembered for his I Have a Dream speech as the pinnacle of his nonviolent efforts to change the Jim Crow laws and racist behavior of the South in the 60’s. The content of this speech is both timeless and timely. He described and condemned the violent hatefulness of those days and followed it with a hopeful description of his dreams of the way the country should be and could be. The abilities to see beyond the status quo and to inspire others to make changes for good are timeless human pursuits that have led to defeat of disease, creation of democratic governments, repeal of unjust laws, and passing boundaries of frontiers.
On the other hand, Dr. King’s stand for civil rights and in opposition of unjust treatment is timely. One need only look at recent events throughout the country to see that neither his Dream nor his nonviolent strategy have yet been fulfilled. In the 60’s, it was easy for the country to work with Dr. King against the South with its blatant racism. It was comfortable for those in other regions to point fingers at the South, because their own racist views could remain hidden or minimized in contrast. If Dr. King were to dream today, how would he describe the current situation and how would he approach it? These are questions to consider as we commemorate his life on January 19.