Why Martin Luther King Was Wrong

Doctor Martin Luther King SpeechThe great Martin Luther King was assassinated 40 years ago this year, and today is his birthday. One month after I was born he delivered his famous speech in Washington, DC, that begins this way…

I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, 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.”

Very powerful words. This is either the most powerful speech delivered by an American or at the very least one of the top ones right up there with the Gettysburg Address and Kennedy’s “Ask Not…” speech. But in it Dr. King is wrong. And he is wrong for a very important reason, so perhaps I should say he mis-stated.

I say this not to make any one mad, but to draw an important point about his speech and his actions, because Dr. King didn’t just have a dream, he had a goal. It is said that the difference between a dream and a goal is the plan. And it can be assured that Dr. King had a plan. He wasn’t going to just sit idly by and hope and wish that the freedom and equality hoped for came to pass. No, he was going to use his desires and his dreams to ignite the hopes and dreams of others. He planned to use his voice to bring a voice to millions of unheard people. He planned to use his feet to walk down the roads that would lead millions to equality. And he planned to use his will power, his determination, his inner strength, to give strength to millions to stand up for what was, and still is, right.

But, look at that speech again. Would it have been as powerful if he had said, “I have a plan” or if he had looked out at that crowd and said, “I have a goal”? No, what he needed to impart to that gathering was a dream. His dream. A nation’s dream. So yes, Dr. King was wrong. But in being wrong, he was more right than most of us can ever hope to be.

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