Friday, September 13, 2013

Dr Anne Wortham - Was the MLK Dream Speech Original?

Anne Wortham is an Associate Professor of Sociology at Illinois State University and continuing Visiting Scholar at Stanford University's Hoover Institution.

As the nation commemorates the fiftieth anniversary of King’s celebrated speech, this examination focuses on another speech, the finale of which should be seen as a footnote to the “Let freedom ring” finale of King’s speech.  The footnote was delivered eleven years earlier as the finale of a speech by King’s mentor and friend, Chicago alderman and minister Rev. Archibald J. Carey, Jr. (1908-1981) at the Republican National Convention on July 8, 1952.  King’s 1963 finale was as follows:

This will be the day when all God’s children will sing with new meaning “My country ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, Of thee I sing.  Land where my fathers died!  Land of the Pilgrim’s pride!  From ev’ry mountainside, Let freedom ring!”  And if America is to be a great nation this must come true.  So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire.  Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York.  Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!  Let freedom ring from the snow capped Rockies of Colorado!  Let freedom ring from the curvaceous peaks of California!  Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain in Georgia!  Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!  Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi.  From every mountainside, let freedom ring.7
          The finale of Carey’s stirring address was:

“We, Negro Americans, sing with all loyal Americans: ‘My country ‘tis of thee, Sweet land of liberty, Of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, Land of the Pilgrim’s pride!  From ev’ry mountainside, Let freedom ring!’ That’s exactly what we mean–from every mountain side, let freedom ring.  Not only from the Green Mountains and White Mountains of Vermont and New Hampshire; not only from the Catskills of New York; but from the Ozarks in Arkansas, from the Stone Mountain in Georgia, from the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia–let it ring not only for the minorities in the United States; but for … the disinherited of all the earth…–may the Republican Party, under God, from every mountainside, LET FREEDOM RING!”8