Just about anyone reading this blog can access audio or print of Dr. Martin Luther King's I Have a Dream speech on the internet. Many media outlets are reprinting, or streaming that speech today, on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Rightly so. It is extraordinary on so many levels: ideas, passion, preaching, theology, and rhetorical skill. I think even those who disagree with its content can appreciate its delivery.
Of course, Dr. King made many other speeches in his brief but intense lifetime that are not as well known. It is saddening to think this may be simply because they are longer. Of these, Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence is one of my favorites, for it shows the broadening of King's definition of the term "civil rights", and of his overall vision. For this he was heavily criticized even by those in the civil rights movement. The speech is both critical and hopeful.
Even more compelling, in my eyes and heart, is the sermon King preached at The National Cathedral on March 31, 1968, four days before his assassination. I listen to Staying Awake Through a Great Revolution with a measure of personal sorrow, not only because the man speaking was silenced so soon after speaking these words, but because they are still true, and because I am aware of how often I fall asleep.
By clicking on the links for each speech, you will be able to hear and read them. These are not soundbites. They are speeches. They are long. They are worth your time.