Carolyn’s Online Magazine
THE WIND BENEATH
MARTIN LUTHER KING, Jr’s, WINGS:
On January 18, 2016, my husband Monte and I attended the Annual NAACP Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Program held at the Greater Parkview Church in Greensburg, Pennsylvania.
After returning home I couldn’t find my notes they’d stayed in a ‘safe place’ for 8 days.
I’m excerpting just one thought spoken that night by someone whose name I didn’t record. I surfed the Internet to expand on that thought and wrote the following.
An advisor told King not to use the phrase I Have a Dream in the speech he was preparing to present at the August 28, 1963, March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. During the speech Mahalia Jackson yelled at him Tell them about the dream! King complied.
THE WIND UNDER MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.’S WINGS
In the days preceding to King’s presentation for the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom he prepared a speech with the help of his advisors. However, he was torn between using two metaphors:
- a ‘bad check:’ the failure of America to deliver on her promises of freedom to her black citizens
- his dream for a nation undivided by racial tensions.
Due to the nature of the march, time constraints, and the fact that he’d used the dream metaphor in speeches throughout the previous year, the bad check metaphor won out. The original speech didn’t mention the word ‘dream.’
During the speech Clarence Jones, one of the advisors, listened as King improvised somewhat on the prepared words. King changed a clunky section into a simple directive: go back to Mississippi; go back to Louisiana; go back to…knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed.
At her second prompting he briefly glanced at Jackson, turned back to the prepared text, and slid it to the left side of the lectern, marking the point of his transformation from lecturer to preacher—from looking down and speaking from notes to using an extemporaneous, oratorical style.
“It was if some cosmic transcendental force came down and occupied his body,” Jones explained. “It was the same body, the same voice, but the voice had something I had never heard before.”
Were it not for Jackson being the wind beneath King’s wings the legacy of King’s I Have a Dream speech might never have been.
Back to January 18th, a day to honor Martin Luther King, Jr., and his legacy with a closing word: injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.
SPECIAL NOTE: Many thanks to Ray Francis who managed to correct my camera settings at the end of the program.
ADDITIONAL READING: Gaither & the Friendship 9: Convictions Expunged
Annual NAACP Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Program Pictures
Participants in the program included:
- Min. Ruth Tolbert, branch secretary
- Rev. Cassandra Robinson, Pearly Gates International Ministries, Jeannette, Pa.
- Bishop Carl E. Jones, Sr., branch president
- Sis. Adrienne Russell, Religious Affairs Chairperson
- Rabbi Sara Perman Central Westmoreland County Unity Coalition
- Sis. Carlotta Paige, Central Westmoreland County Unity Coalition
- Bro. Bill Jackson, First Antioch Baptist Church, Greensburg
- Bro. Ron Landers, Living Word Congregational Church, Jeannette
- Bro. Ray Francis, Greater Parkview Church, Greensburg
- Sis. Twyla Glasgow, Bethel A.M.E. Church, Tarentum
- God’s Anointed Community Choir
- Licentiate Frank Brown, Bethel A.M.E. Church, Greensburg
- Dr. Robin Sims, GPC/NAACP