As a writer, I have an obsession with words, speech, poetry, songs…really, anything written or spoken or sung. My dream class to teach would be one that would analyze great speeches in history, and analyze them given their context in time and place. We would analyze one speech a week, and try to understand why the speech was written, what was happening at the time and place to find meaning behind the speech. I’ll probably never get to teach that class, but I do bring elements of that idea of class into the classes I teach today. We talk about Ronald Reagan giving the Challenger speech, and Adolf Hitler, and Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy, and Martin Luther King Jr., among others. Often, students have never been exposed to the speeches, and most definitely have never heard the social history behind the speech.
In honor of Martin Luther King Jr’s birthday this week, I bring to you the story behind his most famous speech, just in case, as the great Paul Harvey used to say, you don’t know the rest of the story.
I hope you enjoy.