Sunday, January 16, 2011

Historic Words Inspired on the Spot

Along with the usual tributes for this year's Martin Luther King Day, a column by Clarence B. Jones, who was tasked to draft Dr. King's speech to the 1963 civil rights march, reveals how the most famous words from that speech were inspired on the spot.
Martin was essentially reciting the opening suggestions I'd handed in the night before. This was strange, given the way he usually worked over the material Stanley and I provided. When he finished the promissory note analogy, he paused. And in that breach, something unexpected, historic and largely unheralded happened. Martin's favorite gospel singer, Mahalia Jackson, who had performed earlier in the day, called to him from nearby: "Tell 'em about the dream, Martin, tell 'em about the dream!"

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