Today we Honor a truly great man.
For a text of Dr. King’s ” I Have a Dream Speech”, as delivered, please look at Mark Bennett’s award winning Blog, “Defending People”.
Mark, is a good friend and an outstanding Houston criminal defense lawyer and a past president of the Harris County Criminal Defense Lawyers Association. Mark and I are both outspoken and we have joked in the past about how we will likely be cellies at some point. I admire Mark’s intellect and his courage in speaking out against the injustices in our system. Mark is not afraid to name names. His service to our community is extraordinarily important. As a friend, Mark has also been instumental in helping me get started in the blog world. Each year Mark publishes the full test of Dr. King’s ” I Have a Dream Speech”. If you want to watch Dr. King’s speech, here is the youtube link.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=smEqnnklfYs&feature=youtube_gdata_player
Dr. King is an American Hero. He stood up against the status quo. He stood up against racial discrimination, the Klan, racist cops, racist politicians, racist laws, a racist society, the Vietnam War and poverty. Dr. King is one of the bravest Americans who ever lived.
I have a photo of Dr. King shaking hands with my brother in law, attorney Ronnie Cohen. The photo is in my office. Dr. King had come to Houston for a rally. Ronnie was in his early twenties when he went to the rally. Ronnie, who is a very decent good-hearted man, knew the rally organizers and he sought an opportunity to meet Dr. King. You can see in the photo their handshake and the fact they are looking each other square in the eye. Ronnie and Dr. King are both leaning forward. I asked Ronnie what it was like meeting Dr. King in that crowded hall so many years ago.
Ronnie said that when he shook hands with Dr. King, there was an instant connection. Dr King greeted him warmly and it was if there was no other person in the hall. Dr. King took the time and had the ability to make Ronnie feel special. There was a natural warmth, humanity that Dr. King exuded. In recalling the meeting, Ronnie made it clear, that brief encounter had meant a lot to Ronnie.
A couple of years ago I was in Memphis delivering a speech at a National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers Seminar. While I was in Memphis, I took the time to go to the National Civil Rights Museum. The Museum is in what used to be the Loraine Motel. While there I bought a collection of Dr. King’s speeches. The CD’s with the speeches are in my car. Whenever I am on the highway I listen to the speeches. Dr. King’s ” I Have a Dream Speech” was forshadowed in many of his previous speeches. Themes, cadence, words were very similar. But Dr. King’s sixteen minute ” I Have a Dream” Speech is unrivaled in its eloquence and power. Dr. King departed from his written speech and spoke from the heart. He was the last speaker at the rally on the mall. And that is a good thing. No one could have followed him. While I was at the Museum I bought a black rubber wrist bracelet. I have worn it ever since as a daily reminder of the struggle that goes on.
Dr. King was just a man, but he was a rare man. He was brave, eloquent, outspoken and driven by an unrivaled moral compass. Today, I hope we all take a moment to remember Dr. King. He helped change America for the better and he lost his life as result of his efforts. God bless Dr. King, the King family, and God bless all who fought side by side with him and all who carry the torch.