Today we celebrate Martin Luther King Day. While he his famous “I Have a Dream” speech was 58 years ago (Dr. Martin Luther King – I Have A Dream Full Speech (msn.com), his message is more present and pressing today than ever. After the events of last week, we must, in Dr. King’s words, choose chaos or community. We can’t necessarily just hope that everyone comes together; it will take dreaming a new world.
He based his “I Have a Dream” speech on a Langston Hughes poem called “I Dream a World.” It inspired many of the metaphors, political overtones and themes King employed. I Dream A World by Langston Hughes – Famous poems, famous poets. – All Poetry
I dream a world where man
No other man will scorn,
Where love will bless the earth
And peace its paths adorn
I dream a world where all
Will know sweet freedom’s way,
Where greed no longer saps the soul
Nor avarice blights our day.
A world I dream where black or white,
Whatever race you be,
Will share the bounties of the earth
And every man is free,
Where wretchedness will hang its head
And joy, like a pearl,
Attends the needs of all mankind-
Of such I dream, my world!
This was Langston Hughes’s favorite poem; he used it to close all his readings. It’s hope in the chaos and it attends to our needs, as a good poem does. The “fierce urgency of now” of not just a now at one moment in history but an ongoing now and a call to give the strength of our love to others.