TEACHER MATERIAL #2
Michael Eric Dyson on Martin Luther King
When you read this aloud, try to express the same passion
and anger evident in the voice of Dyson, a professor and
ordained Baptist minister, when he gave this lecture/sermon.
Martin Luther King, Jr., kept getting up morning after
morning, knowing they [the FBI and other government agencies]
were after him, knowing they were possessed of this zealous
intensity that was illegal and immoral! And so he was a
danger to America. Why? Because he loved democracy so
much he wanted to see it become real. He wanted to march
democracy from parchment to pavement. He wanted to see
it become a reality in this nation. That’s why he
had a dream.
But America has frozen him. Now they freeze King in this
posture of dreaming before the sunlit summit of expectation
at the height of his national fame in Washington, D.C.,
where he said, “I have a dream.” He said more
than that. We ought to have a moratorium on that speech
for the next ten years. I don’t want to hear it no
more! And if you’re gonna play the speech, play the
other parts of the speech: “We have come to the nation’s
capital to cash a check marked ‘insufficient funds.’
” [In other words,] “Where’s my money?!”
That’s the part we ought to play. Right? We ought
to play the part where King says, “The foundations
of this nation will continue to shake.” He said,
“The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the
foundations of this nation until the Negro is granted his
full citizenship rights.” Play that part, too!
Why is Dyson angry the media have reduced King’s memory
to “I Have a Dream?” What does he think Martin
Luther King, Jr.’s real message was?
If you don’t have a lot
to say in response to these two questions, write for five
minutes non-stop anything that comes to mind in response
to Dyson’s words.