My two favorite lines of the I Have a Dream Speech are:
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.
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?”
The first quote promotes the nonviolent focus of the Civil Rights Movement. I believe this focus is an inevitability in sustainable social revolutions. There will always be a stronger army (well, until this happens or this), but the power of peace is that it’s unlimited (I dare you to be more peaceful than me!) and that is what truly can not be overcome.
(although the internet has tried)
The second quote leads into a description of many of the wrongdoings that were happening to the black community at the time. The idea is that the struggles of the communities that are being most oppressed reflect the struggles of the entire movement. This idea builds unity across all levels of the cause and abides by the age old truism that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link.
MLK gave a voice to a movement that shocked & changed the world. He did this during a time when the response to racism and a history of mistreatment could have taken a very different and more violent path (approximately 2 years after this speech, the Watts Riots showed what that more violent path might look like). He did this while sometimes in direct opposition to some of the other vocal leaders in the black community. (Random Video: Malcolm X debating MLK)
MLK was able to do this nearly impossible task because he believed in something that he knew was right. He could act with clarity of mind and deed since he promoted truisms that have stood the test of time: Peace & Unity. As we turn the magnifying glass onto ourselves, can we say that we’ve promoted those truisms in our lives and the world around us? Not everyone has to lead a movement, but everyone should see the undeniable strength and the inevitability of sustainable positive change through Peace & Unity.