In honor of today’s national holiday, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, I took the time to read his speech at the Great March in Detroit.
This was Dr. King’s original I Have a Dream speech. He delivered it two months prior to the March on Washington.
My favorite excerpt?
…For we’ve come to see the power of nonviolence. We’ve come to see that this method is not a weak method, for it’s the strong man who can stand up amid opposition, who can stand up amid violence being inflicted upon him and not retaliate with violence.
You see, this method has a way of disarming the opponent. It exposes his moral defenses. It weakens his morale, and at the same time it works on his conscience, and he just doesn’t know what to do. If he doesn’t beat you, wonderful. If he beats you, you develop the quiet courage of accepting blows without retaliating. If he doesn’t put you in jail, wonderful. Nobody with any sense likes to go to jail. But if he puts you in jail, you go in that jail and transform it from a dungeon of shame to a haven of freedom and human dignity. And even if he tries to kill you, you’ll develop the inner conviction that there are some things so dear, some things so precious, some things so eternally true, that they are worth dying for. And I submit to you that if a man has not discovered something that he will die for, he isn’t fit to live…
What Dr. King professed is something very difficult for most people to realize. And though our daily struggles are not as dramatic or deep as the Civil Rights movement, it takes patience and dignity to, if not literally, then figuratively, develop the quiet courage of accepting blows without retaliating.
For more information about today, a national day of service, visit MLKDay.gov