Words Matter

Here are the notes in case you want to follow along.


“I Have a Dream”

As I mentioned in my sermon, Martin Luther King’s most famous speech can be divided into two sections. If you watch the video below, up until the 10:45 mark or so, you can see him frequently looking down at his notes.

Just after that mark, the cameras spend over a minute panning the enormous crowd. Most of that time you can tell he is still following his notes. But when the camera returns to Dr. King, at about 12:14, there is a shift. He starts a sentence, possibly from his notes, but after an interruption for applause, he abandons that sentence and starts a new one.

“So even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream.”

And with the camera clearly on him, he never looks down at his notes for the rest of the speech.

Gives me chills every time I watch it.


Here is the article that started me down the path to the story I shared. It’s a pretty good read.

Innovation and Winging the “I Have a Dream” Speech

by Doug Paul

Two hours before standing at the steps of Lincoln to deliver one of the most important speeches ever given, in the literal shadow of monument to rhetorical greatness from one hundred years before, Martin Luther King, Jr. couldn’t land the speech. Minutes before it was time, he was still furiously working on it, knowing it wasn’t there yet. “Just before King spoke, politician Drew Hensen writes, he was “crossing out lines and scribbling new ones as he awaited his turn. And it looked like he was still editing the speech until he walked to the podium to deliver it.”

He stood at the podium and delivered the opening pages of the speech, staying mostly on course, but ad libbing a few extras here and there. But about mid way through, the voice of King’s favorite gospel singer, Mahalia Jackson, came ringing through the audience behind him:

“Tell ’em about the dream, Martin!”

Read the rest of the article here.

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