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Martin Luther King, Jr. “I Have a Dream” speech August 28, 1963

Martin Luther King, Jr. speaking in Washington, D.C.

On August 28, 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his “I Have a Dream” speech as part of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom event.  The text of the speech is below.

I also recommend the linked video below from the National Archives. The film is titled The March. Unfortunately some of the audio has been redacted due to a copyright claim from the King family.

If you want to read more of Kings speeches I recommend this volume. This fortieth-anniversary edition honors Martin Luther King Jr.’s courageous dream and his immeasurable contribution by presenting his most memorable words in a concise and convenient edition. As Coretta Scott King says in her foreword, “This collection includes many of what I consider to be my husband’s most important writings and orations.” In addition to the famed keynote address of the 1963 march on Washington, the renowned civil rights leader’s most influential words included here are the “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” the essay “Pilgrimage to Nonviolence,” and his last sermon, “I See the Promised Land,” preached the day before he was assassinated.

Editor James M. Washington arranged the selections chronologically, providing headnotes for each selection that give a running history of the civil rights movement and related events. In his introduction, Washington assesses King’s times and significance.

The I Have a Dream speech

Martin Luther King, Jr. speaking in Washington, D.C.
Martin Luther King, Jr. speaking in Washington D.C on August 28, 1963. Courtesy National Archives

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But 100 years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself in exile in his own land. And so we’ve come here today to dramatize a shameful condition. In a sense we’ve come to our nation’s capital to cash a check.

When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men — yes, Black men as well as white men — would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked insufficient funds.

But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt.

We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so we’ve come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.

We have also come to his hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism.

Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quick sands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. 1963 is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual.

There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.

We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny.

And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone. And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back.

There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, when will you be satisfied? We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities.

We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating: for whites only.

We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote.

No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive. Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our Northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed.

Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends.

So even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

Martin Luther King, Jr in Washington D.C.
Martin Luther King, Jr. on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial Courtesy National Archives

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day down in Alabama with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification, one day right down in Alabama little Black boys and Black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers. I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day 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.

This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with new meaning: My country, ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrims’ pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true. And so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania. Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado. Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California. But not only that, let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia. Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee. Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, and when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, Black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual: Free at last. Free at last. Thank God almighty, we are free at last.

 

To better understand the Civil Rights movement and the King Years I highly recommend the incredible three volume work by Taylor Branch, America in the King Years.

Branch has been awarded both the Pulitzer Prize and is a National Book Critics Circle award winner. Visit his website to learn more.

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click these links and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission. This commission does not affect any price that you pay. All views and opinions provided are my own and are never influenced by affiliate programs or sponsors providing products. 

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Chisholm High School Family Tree Monument in New Smyrna Beach

Chisholm Family Tree Wall

In the days of segregation, the city of New Smyrna Beach was no different than
communities across the country. African American students were routed to schools
that were clearly separate but not equal. While not having the financial resources
that were allocated to white schools, that did not mean that students, faculty and
staff, did not have pride in their community school.

Are you interested in learning about the businesses of the Historic West Side, in New Smyrna Beach? You need a copy of History of New Smyrna Black Businesses with Present Area Businesses written by Fannie Minson Hudson. Click the link or the image to the left to order your copy today!

 

 

 

While there is no doubt that the end of legal segregation in education has been a positive for students of all races, it was a difficult shift and has not been without issue. Many believe that the end of segregation often brought the end of community schools and contributed to a breakdown of local community.

Florida State University professor of economics and past director of African-American
Studies,  and current associate dean for diversity, equity, and inclusion, Patrick L. Mason  stated that teaching was considered to be one of the highest professions that educated African-Americans could achieve. “They were blocked from most other professions, so you get all these exceptional people who become teachers.”

Dr. Michael Butler of Flagler College has written an incredible book on the struggles of integration in Escambia County, FL. Beyond Integration is highly recommended. 

 

 

 

 

Mason points out that one of the tragedies of integration was the loss of certain
black institutions, of which schools were most prominent. Black schools such as
Chisholm High School were shuttered and students were forced to white schools.
“We went from our schools, which were a thing of great pride, to their schools,
where we were tolerated.” Principals, teachers, and other staff, were often demoted
or put into roles well below their skill level.

Chisholm Wildcat
Chisholm Wildcat located at Babe James Center in New Smyrna Beach

As Chisholm student Michael Williams relates, “It was a neighborhood school, principals and teachers went to the same church, and these people were our role models.”

Roy Brooks, a 1968 Chisholm graduate stated, “At Chisholm, we had personal contact, not only between the teachers with the students, but also the teachers with the parents.” This interaction is something that is missing in the world of education today.

Chisholm High School can trace its roots to the turn of the 20th century. It was then that Leroy Chisholm, a local barber, turned two adjoining houses into classrooms for black children. Chisholm would later fund the Chisholm Academy, a school for middle school aged children. When grades 10 through 12 were added to the Academy, the name was changed to Chisholm High School.

Chisholm High School was closed after the 1969 academic year but its legacy is
not forgotten. The Chisholm Alumni Association is rightfully proud of their
school. On July 14, 2012, the association dedicated a monument on the site of the
Babe James Center in the heart of the Historic West Side of New Smyrna Beach.

The text of the marker reads:

Chisholm Family Tree
Chisholm Family Tree plaque dedicated in 2012

The Chisholm Family Tree

As a mainstay of shaping and cultivating
Our academic growth and maturity, we
Reflect on our proud high school heritage.
We hereby salute the students who
Attended Chisholm High twelve days,
Twelve months, twelve years; teachers
Who inspired and encouraged us;
Administrators and staff who nurtured us.
You were there for us! Let this monument
Be a reminder of our educational, cultural,
Athletic, and social experiences as we
Prepared for a whole new world. We heard
Your words, “Depart from here and use

 

Chisholm Family Tree Wall
Center panel of the Chisholm Family Tree Wall

Your mind toward making a resounding
Positive impact on the lives of others and
This world.” The Chisholm Family Tree Wall
Is dedicated to you and all the Chisholm
Family members world-wide. Thank you
For the memories and we are forever
Grateful. Come back again for a visit.

 

 

Chisholm Family Tree Wall Full View
Chisholm Family Tree Wall Full View

“Oh Chisholm High Forever Our Dear Alma mater Dear”

Dedicated on this date July 14, 2012 and sponsored by
Chisholm High Alumni Association

 

 

 

 

If you have information on Chisholm High School you would like to share, please
reach out to me or leave a comment to this post.

To learn more about Chisholm High School I recommend contacting the Mary S.
Harrell Black Heritage Museum.

In addition, you should reach out to the New Smyrna Museum of History.

The Chisholm High Alumni Organization has a Facebook page. If you attended
Chisholm High School, you are encouraged to get in touch with them.

Sources:

Daytona Beach News Journal July 14, 2018

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click these links and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission. This commission does not affect any price that you pay. All views and opinions provided are my own and are never influenced by affiliate programs or sponsors providing products.

 


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The Unforgettable Headstone of Roy L. Cook in Oakdale Cemetery, DeLand, FL

Roy L. Cook flat headstone

For me, one of the joys of walking through a cemetery is that you never know what you will find. It may
be an interesting inscription, the burial of the famous or infamous, or in the case of Roy L. Cook, well,
you will see shortly. I have never seen anything like this before.

For those easily offended, please consider this your warning. Text and images below may be offensive to readers. This post is not an endorsement of any beliefs that may have been held or espoused by Mr. Cook but rather putting forth historical fact. 

In May 1931, Roy Lewis Cook and his wife, Louise B. had been visiting Atlanta, Georgia. On May 10, they
were on the trip home when Roy began complaining of stomach pains. They stopped in Vienna, Georgia
at the office of Dr. F. E. Williams. Within an hour, Cook was dead from what his death certificate listed as
“probably cardiac failure. Possibly angina pectoris. Was pulseless and in collapse when I saw him and
remained so until death 20 or 30 minutes later.”

Only 43 years old, Cook left behind a widow, Louise, and children Gertrude and Roy, Jr., who went by
the name Louis. According to local newspaper reports, the Cook family were not mourning alone as
estimates between 1,000 and 2,500 people were reported at his funeral in the small town of DeLand,
Florida.

Roy L. Cook was born in DeLeon Springs, FL, October 2, 1888 to Lewis P. and Alice Cook. His father was a
farmer and it appears that the family was highly mobile. In the 1900 census, the Cook family, including
twelve-year-old Roy, were living in Wittich Township, Arkansas.

By 1910, Roy and his young bride Louise were living in Florida with extended family. Roy was working as an automobile mechanic. In 1917 the Cooks were living in Orlando, FL. where Roy worked for himself in the firm of Cook Automobile, Co. His World War I draft registration card states he was tall and slender, with gray eyes and black hair.

The young Cook appears to have been an enterprising person because by 1920, he and Louise, along
with their two children, were living in DeLand and Roy, Sr. owned his own garage. Still living in DeLand in
1930, Roy, Sr. was a partner in the automobile dealership Cook and Rowland. Cook and Rowland was
located at 133-135 S. Woodland Avene. The business was an authorized sales and service dealer for Buick
automobiles. They were also a Vesta Battery Service Station.

Cook was still young, appears to have been financially successful, and it turns out he was a highly
influential individual as we will see.

News of the elder Cook’s demise quickly reached DeLand. His partner L. L. Rowland and an employee
only listed as Mr. Miller left immediately for Georgia to help the stricken widow. They helped arrange
for transport of the body back to DeLand where funeral director J. M. Stith was in charge of
arrangements. Stith worked in the employ of the Griffith-Stith Funeral Parlor, that at one time was
located in the building known as the Dutton House.

The funeral services were held on May 13, 1931 at First Baptist Church with Dr. I. E. Phillips of
Jacksonville in charge. Reports state the church was filled to overflowing with hundreds standing
outside. The same report estimated more than 500 cars from across Florida, Georgia, and Alabama were
at the church grounds. Newspaper reports posted a long listing of pallbearers and honorary pallbearers
including local judges.

Roy L. Cook flat headstone
Roy L. Cook headstone depicting his membership as a Mason.

You may be asking why more than 1,000 people would attend a small town funeral for a small town car dealer. The town had a population only slightly higher than 5,000 in 1930. Yes, it was true that Cook was a member of the DeLand Masonic Lodge, was a member of the Royal Arch Masons, and the Order of the Eastern Star. This would hardly account for this type turn out however. Cook had a much more sinister side in his life and his funeral brought to the public what many might not have openly known.

 

At the time of his death, Roy L. Cook, Sr. served as Grand Titan of the Ku Klux Klan of the State of Florida. It appears that local reporting had is title wrong, calling him the Grand Titian while he most likely served as Grand Titan.

Estimates place between 100 and 200 robed and hooded clansmen lining the Oakdale Cemetery driveway. They were
said to have held “drooping American flags, (and) bowed their heads as the funeral car passed.” At the
burial site, “the degree team of the Klan from Jacksonville conducted an honorary burial order.”
Clansmen from across Florida, Georgia, and Alabama attended the ceremony.

At the close of the ceremony, members from the Order of the Eastern Star placed more than 300 floral
assortments on the closed grave.

In the days immediately after the funeral Cook’s wife Louise was named executor of his estate and also
named beneficiary of all real and personal property.

Roy L. Cook Headstone
Roy L. Cook marker depicting his KKK membership

In May 1932, newspaper advertisements placed by the E.C. Tomoka Klan No. 17 Realm of Florida were appearing in the DeLand Sun News under the headline, “Klansmen Take Notice.” The announcement went on further to let the public know that a new monument was to be placed on the grave of Roy L. Cook, on Sunday, May 15 at 3:30 p.m. George P. Bryan, a monument dealer based in Daytona Beach, erected the monument.

The memory of Roy L. Cook continued to be strong in the years after his death. Members of the Volusia Chapter 186 of the Order of the Eastern Star were reported by the press to hold annual memorial services for former members. After the November 1933 service, members laid flowers on Cook’s grave.

This post is not a tribute to Roy L. Cook. While he is long gone, his memory and most likely his actions cannot be forgotten. We must fight against actions by hate groups such as the KKK. These groups have terrorized our country for too long and we must not allow them to keep doing so. The marker to Roy L. Cook, now in place for nearly 90 years, is a reminder that there is more work to be done, more justice to be fought for, more equality to be won.

To learn more about the terrible and violent history of the Klan in Florida I suggest reading The Invisible Empire: The Ku Klux Klan in Florida (Florida History and Culture) written by Michael Newton.

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click these links and make a purchase, I may receive a small
commission. This commission does not affect any price that you pay. All views and opinions provided are
my own and are never influenced by affiliate programs or sponsors providing products.

Sources
Daytona Beach News Journal
DeLand, FL City Directories
DeLand Sun News
Georgia Certificate of Death
U.S. Census Bureau records
World War I Draft Registration Cards