Remembering "i Have A Dream" (Transcript) | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

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Remembering "I Have a Dream"

MR. ROB SACHS

13:50:42
We end our program today with a look at one of the country's best known dreamers, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. His birthday is January 15th, the federal holiday dedicated to him is this Monday.

MS. REBECCA SHEIR

13:50:53
In August, 1963, Dr. King was part of the march on Washington for jobs and freedom. It was organized by a bunch of civil rights organizations, including the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, which Dr. King helped start in Atlanta.

SACHS

13:51:07
A highlight of the march was, of course, Dr. King's, "I Have A Dream" speech. Some 250,000 people were there on the national mall to hear it and millions more watched on their televisions at home.

SHEIR

13:51:19
History books will tell you the speech was a critical moment for the country and the civil rights movement. But what about the individual people who were there, the people who gathered that day as Dr. King stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and described his vision for the future?

DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING

13:51:34
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, live out the true meaning of its creed. We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal.

MS. SANDY FITZPATRICK

13:52:01
You knew you were at a moment of American history. You just knew you were.

SHEIR

13:52:08
This is Sandy Fitzpatrick. Tell us where we are right now.

FITZPATRICK

13:52:09
We're standing on the very top steps of the Lincoln Memorial remembering August 28, 1963, which was one of the most exhilarating days of our life.

SHEIR

13:52:21
Our, meaning her and her husband.

MR. JIM FITZPATRICK

13:52:23
Jim Fitzpatrick.

SHEIR

13:52:24
They'd been married two years when they attended the march on Washington.

FITZPATRICK

13:52:27
We actually stood right here at the bottom of the steps.

SHEIR

13:52:30
The march was held on a Wednesday.

FITZPATRICK

13:52:32
A gorgeous day, not one of Washington's beastly hot days.

SHEIR

13:52:36
And as Sandy and Jim recall the crowd...

FITZPATRICK

13:52:38
It was said three-quarters of the audience was African-American, but it was definitely a mixed march.

SHEIR

13:52:44
...was immense.

FITZPATRICK

13:52:45
You turned around and it was just a mass of people on both sides of the reflecting pool and all the way up to the base of the Washington Monument.

SHEIR

13:52:53
Now, a number of civil rights leaders spoke that day.

FITZPATRICK

13:52:56
Whitney Young from the Urban League, Roy Wilkins from NAACP, James Farmer and John Lewis, who is still a great congressperson in our congress.

SHEIR

13:53:06
But when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. took the podium...

FITZPATRICK

13:53:09
Nobody knew this was going to be one of the great speeches of our history.

FITZPATRICK

13:53:14
It was melodic, it was powerful. It was almost hypnotic.

KING

13:53:19
I have a dream...

FITZPATRICK

13:53:21
There was a rolling quality to it.

KING

13:53:23
...that one day on the red hills of Georgia...

FITZPATRICK

13:53:26
Like waves.

KING

13:53:26
...the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners...

FITZPATRICK

13:53:31
Each time, it took you to a higher level.

KING

13:53:33
...will they be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

FITZPATRICK

13:53:38
He had that ability to raise his audience.

MR. JULIAN BOND

13:53:41
I had heard him speak many, many times before. He was from Atlanta, I was from Atlanta. He taught me in college.

SHEIR

13:53:46
Julian Bond is, in fact, one of eight students who studied under Dr. King.

BOND

13:53:51
You know, a lot of people say that, but he only taught one time and he only taught one class so the other people who are saying that is just telling a lie, a terrible lie.

SHEIR

13:53:58
These days, after serving in both houses of the Georgia legislature and chairing the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Bond does some teaching of his own.

BOND

13:54:08
I'm a professor at American University and the University of Virginia teaching courses in civil rights history.

SHEIR

13:54:12
But at the time of the march on Washington, Bond had recently helped found The Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee or SNCC.

BOND

13:54:20
I was the communications director, which meant I was the publicist.

SHEIR

13:54:22
So on that late August day, he was there, right there at the base of the Lincoln Memorial.

BOND

13:54:27
I do remember that SNCC were the only people who sang "We Shall Overcome."

SHEIR

13:54:30
Really?

BOND

13:54:32
Yes. There's a picture -- there's pictures of us, both moving pictures and still pictures, of us holding hands and singing "We Shall Overcome."

SHEIR

13:54:39
But something else Bond remembers, of course, is Dr. King's legendary speech.

BOND

13:54:43
He delivered it so well, so well put together. It was just wonderful.

KING

13:54:48
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. I have a dream.

BOND

13:55:08
This was the rational, why is there a civil rights movement? It's as if somebody asked him that and he answered it in this speech.

KING

13:55:16
And 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.

BOND

13:55:30
And you couldn't come away from that without having any doubts about why there was a movement and what it wanted.

SHEIR

13:55:35
And Bond says, thanks to that movement, we've come a long way toward making Dr. King's dream come true. But he hopes we don't stop now.

BOND

13:55:45
I was part of the last generation in American history to engage and sustain mobilization for civil rights and I don't want to be the member of the last generation to do that.

SHEIR

13:55:55
So if you were to sort of give a message to this generation, the next generation, what would that be?

BOND

13:56:01
I'd say get off your kiesters, do something.

SHEIR

13:56:03
And back in 1963, that's what Dr. King's speech inspired so many others to do, such as Sandy and Jim Fitzpatrick.

FITZPATRICK

13:56:10
We knew it was important and we wanted to be involved in this.

SHEIR

13:56:14
Because after all, they say, Dr. King's dream is, in short, the American dream.

FITZPATRICK

13:56:20
One of the greatest articulations of the American dream that's ever been spoken.

KING

13:56:25
Let freedom ring. And when this happens, 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, Protestant and Catholic, 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're free at last."

SHEIR

13:57:33
And that's "Metro Connection" for this week. We heard from WAMU's Sabri Ben-Achour, David Schultz, Kavitha Cardoza and Jessica Gould. And welcome aboard Julia Edwards, our new producer of "Door-to-Door."

SACHS

13:57:43
Jim Asendio is our news director, Tobey Schreiner is our audio engineer. Thanks to Jonathan Charry, Andrew Chadwick, Margo Kelly, Timmy Olmstead and Bill Redland for their production help.

SHEIR

13:57:55
And special thanks to Dana Farrington and the WAMU digital media team for keeping our website up to date.

SACHS

13:58:01
Our theme song "Every Little Bit Hurts," and our 'Door-to-Door," theme, "No Girl," are from the album "Title Tracks," by John Davis and used with permission of the Ernest Jennings record company. Check out our website, metroconnection.org, for a list of all the music we use.

SHEIR

13:58:15
We hope you can join us next time when we dive into identity, who are we, what are we and why are we especially at risk of losing our identity online right here in D.C.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN 1

13:58:26
It's like the old saying, the bank robber saying, why do you rob banks? Because that's where the money is. Well, some of the reasons people use technology in D.C. is why cyber criminals target us.

SHEIR

13:58:33
Until then, I'm Rebecca Sheir.

SACHS

13:58:35
And I'm Rob Sachs.

SHEIR

13:58:35
And thanks for listening to "Metro Connection."

SACHS

13:58:40
A production of WAMU 88.5 news.
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