I Have a Dream …Dr. King and Maya Angelou
By: Cynthia Cavendish-Carey
Like me, some of you may have been old enough – young enough – in the 60s to remember Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his famous speech on the Washington Mall. But, did you know it was a woman who inspired him to add what would become the most recognizable and memorable part of that speech?
Maya Angelou was the first person to be featured on Oprah Winfrey’s “Master Class.” I’ve read her books and have listened to her magnificent voice reciting her poetry in lyrical tones that lull me into awe. As Ms. Angelou recounted her life, I learned of her association, working for Dr. King and Civil Rights. His death hit her very hard. Not long before the assassination, though, he was preparing for the march on Washington and his speech on the mall. As he spoke, Ms. Angelou sat behind him, supporting his every word. In the midst of his speech, she murmured that he should tell the audience about his dream – a dream he had relayed to her in a previous conversation not long before. At that point … totally unscripted … MLK’s voice rang out the “I Have a Dream” portion that so clearly resonates with all of us … today and for all time. He spoke about having been to the mountain top and foreseeing a day when all the sons and daughters could sit down at the table together.
The fact that our President is of African American as well as white descent is evidence that we have come far. But, we still have opportunities to progress still further.
This week marks the opening of Dr. Martin Luther King’s memorial in Washington, DC. Just as in life, there is some controversy that surrounds it … the artist is not African American, the depiction of this man is imposing and not idealized, his image directly faces the Thomas Jefferson memorial somewhat as a challenge. I find it interesting and slightly disappointing that there are factions in society that will take exception to something about everything. Perhaps that just part of living in a free country where we defend one another’s right to agree or disagree as we see fit. I wonder what Dr. King would say. Would he find it amusing? Slough if off? Chances are good he would probably have something to say about it.
I’m not planning a trip to our nation’s capital, but it is a favorite destination for me and my family. It’s certain that when we go, we will pay a visit – and tribute – to this great man’s memorial.