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50 Years Since the “I Have a Dream” Speech

Posted by on Tuesday, August 20, 2013 in News.

“I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a desert state, sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.”

– Martin Luther King Jr.

50 Years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave a speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial that changed the world. The Civil Rights movement saw turbulent times in 1963 that gave ways to shocking events that no one will ever forget. To commemorate 50 years since this time, Vanderbilt University will hold some special events on campus to remember 1963.

On Wednesday, August 28th, Vanderbilt remembered the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom with a mid-day event in Benton Chapel beginning at 12:15 pm. Starting with an airing of the commemoration events from Washington DC, the event opened with a spoken word by Joshua Everett and Olatunde Osinaike that brought focus to the current issues of the day that the Civil Rights Movement started long ago. Powerful and precise, Joshua and Ola brought everyone in to the moment as people reflected on the significance of the day. Next, a short video was shown that detailed the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom and the key players behind the scenes. The event concluded with a reflection on the speech and the legacy of the March by Dr. Lewis Baldwin of Vanderbilt Divinity School. Stopping in the middle of the day to reflect and remember, Vanderbitl staff, students, faculty and Nashville community members were able to see how far we have come, but in the same moment, see how much more there still is to do.

On Thursday, September 5th, we welcomed Rev. Carolyn McKinstry to Benton Chapel at 7 pm. Rev. McKinstry was the sole survivor of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in September of 1963, a bombing by Ku Klux Klan members that took the lives of four young girls. Rev. McKinstry is the author of While the World Watched, a personal memoir of the event and the legacy of the Civil Rights Movement. Welcoming Rev. McKinstry to campus was a lunch discussion at the Bishop Joseph Johnson Black Cultural Center that included a book give away. Students and staff were struck by the personal and reflective message that McKinstry had to offer. In the evening, McKinstry gave a powerful talk to a full house in Benton Chapel that comprised not only of students, staff and faculty of Vanderbilt, but Nashville community, Fisk University students (where McKinstry is an alumna) and sisters of her Sorority’s order. With a message of reconciliation and hope, McKinstry displayed strength and determination of absolute resolve in message. While knowing first hand the costs of the struggle of the Civil Rights Movement, McKinstry still leads the charge for more work to be done.

Please visit the Vanderbilt MLK Commemoration web site at for more details about these and more events.