Monday, January 21, 2008

King's words

Jan. 15, 2008, marked the Reverand Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s 79th birthday. The federal government chose the third Monday of January to officially observe King Day. I'm pleased to mark its observance with you today.

It's undisputed that Dr. King was one of the greatest orators of modern times, but I think you'd agree great speeches begin with great text. And Dr. King was an exceptional writer. Look at his "I Have A Dream" speech.

Through pacing, Dr. King quickly builds the intensity of his speech as he tells us, "... the Negro still is not free." Once he's captured your attention by referencing a defaulted promissory note -- what's initially at stake -- Dr. King skillfully builds a world with his words as clearly as though he's held a photo in front of you, "... we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream." Then he raises the stakes again by introducing our children.

He increases the pacing even further with spare words judiciously chosen for maximum emotional connection. He doesn't write, "I dreamed last night." He doesn't say, "I hope that ..." No. He proclaims, "I have a dream today." It's direct. It's succinct. It's immediate.

It's not just the way Dr. King delivered his words, but the words he chose to deliver. Those words continue to resonant with us today, keeping his dream alive.



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