Nearly 50 years ago in August of 1963, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., gave what has become an easily recognizable speech at the feet of the Lincoln memorial about his dream for better jobs and lasting freedom. Unfortunately for him and the rest of us, he did not live long enough to see this completely happen. It is time to wake from the dream and sing with new meaning. I’d like to think if Martin were still around today – upon reading the Worldwide United Plan to end poverty and inequality, in order to awaken the world from its captive dream, he might have given the following address, perhaps even on the day used to remember him, January 17th; (Note, all changes made to his original speach are marked by italic denotation.)
I Have a Plan
I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest Plan of action for freedom in the history of our world.
Almost six years ago, a relatively unknown American, in whose symbolic moon shadow we stand today, brought forth a Worldwide Declaration of Intent. This momentous decree comes as a great beacon light of hope to billions of Human slaves who have been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of our captivity.
But six years later, Humanity still is not free. Six years later, the life of mankind is still sadly crippled by the manacles of Inhumanity and the chains of Inequality. Six years later, Humanity lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of potential material prosperity. Six years later, mankind is still languished in the corners of society and finds himself an exile in his own land. And so we’ve come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.
In a sense we’ve come to each of our nation’s capitals to cash a check. When the architects of the American republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every Human was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men and women, yes, gay men as well as gay women, would be guaranteed the “unalienable Rights” of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as the citizens of humanity are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America, along with all Nations have given Humanity a bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.”
But we refuse to believe that the bank of prosperity and equality is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of our Global family. And so, we’ve come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice, the basic rights for all mankind, free food, clothing, shelter, health care and prison reform for all those incarcerated.
We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of global democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of despair to the sunlit path of human justice. Now is the time to lift all nations from the quicksands of human injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of Humanity’s children.
It will be fatal for the nations to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of Mankind‘s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Two thousand eleven is not an end, but a beginning. And those who hope that the world needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nations return to business as usual. And there will be neither rest nor tranquility in America or the world at large until mankind is granted his unalienable Rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of all nations until the bright day of justice emerges.
But there is something that must be said to all people, those who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice: In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with peace.
The marvelous new work which will engulf the global community must not lead us to a distrust of all people in positions of authority, for many of our brothers and sisters, will come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. And they shall come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom.
We cannot walk alone.
And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead.
We cannot turn back.
There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “When will you be satisfied?” We can never be satisfied as long as any human is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of human brutality. We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the apartments, homes, motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the impoverished basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their self-hood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating: “Will Work For Food.” We cannot be satisfied as long as anyone in any country cannot succeed and anyone believes he has nothing for which to live for. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until “justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.”
I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. And some of you have come from areas where your quest — quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of human brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is to be done away with. Go back to the slums and ghettos of our nations, knowing that this situation can and will be changed by the voice of all people.
Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends.
And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, We have been shown a Plan. It is a Plan deeply rooted in the truths we all have in common and belongs to all of humanity, equally.
I have a Plan that one day all nations will rise up and live out the true meaning of its purpose: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”
I have a Plan that one day all of humanity will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.
I have a Plan that one day even all the impoverished of the world even those sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of prosperity, freedom, equality and justice.
I have a Plan that our little children will one day live in nations where they will not be judged by the color of their skin nor by any content of their character.
I have a Plan today!
I have a Plan that one day, the world, with its well intending but ignorant leaders, with its governors having lips dripping with the words of empty promises and false hopes — one day all little children will be able to join hands with one another as sisters and brothers.
I have a Plan today!
I have a Plan that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; “and the glory of mankind shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.”
This is our hope, and this is the faith that I begin each day with.
With this Plan, we are able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this Plan, we are able to transform the jangling discords of all our nations into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this Plan, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle less together, to stay out of jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will all be free one day.
And this will be the day — this will be the day when all of humanity will be able to sing with new meaning:
Our countries are of thee, sweet lands of liberty, of them we sing.
Land where our fathers died, lands of our future’s pride,
From every mountainside, let freedom ring!
And if our world is to be made of great nations, this must become true.
And so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of our New world.
Let this Plan begin from the mighty mountains of New York.
Let this Plan begin from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.
Let this Plan begin from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado.
Let this Plan begin from the curvaceous slopes of California.
But not only that:
Let this Plan begin from our brothers and sistes all over Europe.
Let this Plan begin from our brothers and sisters all over China.
Let this Plan begin from every Nation there ever was and no more there a border be.
From every corner of the world, let this Plan begin and 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, every country and every nation we will be able to speed up that day when all of humanity will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old human optimists:
Free at last! Free at last!
Thank our Almighty Humanity, we are free at last!