Dateline – August 28, 1963. 50 years ago, Rev. Martin Luther King(MLK), Jr delivered the now famous “I have a dream” speech while addressing a gathering of about 250,000 black folks who had gathered at the National Mall in Washington to protest about jobs and wages. The history books and various reports tell us that King spent the night preparing his speech and the most famous part of the speech he gave on the day was not part of the prepared speech!
Martin Luther King, Jr while addressing the immediate reason for which they were gathered, saw into the future. He saw beyond the immediate clamour for increased wages and jobs and ‘prophesied’ about a day where the American irrespective of skin colour will be treated with the courtesy he deserves as an American. Martin Luther King called to task and reminded all at the time, and even now, the ideas of the founding fathers of America in the declaration of independence. He made reference to black folks having come to the bank to cash the cheque (of equality) that the founding fathers gave all Americans and the fact that the cheque had ‘bounced’. He however refused to accept this fact and was inadvertently calling the American government to be responsible!
Today, fifty years after, MLK’s dream hasn’t been completely fulfilled but significant progress has been made and continuous progress is being made. Who would have imagined a black man occupying the white house and technically being the most powerful man in the world! Who would have envisioned the likes of Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell and others holding the positions of power and influence they have held in America? They are all what MLK the prophet spoke about 50 years ago.
MLK was not fixated on just the present neither was he selfish and concerned just about himself. He was as concerned about the present as he was concerned about the future. It was also clear to see that MLK was an intelligent man who read widely as his speech has been dissected to have been influenced by different people of his and previous generations. While being a Baptist Pastor who was still fully involved in the ministry, he did not rely on only the Bible to make his speeches, he read widely and he matched his works (Bible reading and prayers) with corresponding action (hitting the streets to demonstrate and organise protests against the injustices of the day).
Today, MLK is celebrated not only in America but across the globe as a fearless, selfless and visionary leader.
Nigeria today yearns for its own fearless, selfless and visionary leader, not necessarily in government. MLK dreamed for America 50 years ago, who will dream for Nigeria today?
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