First, how many of us know and have quoted the great speeches of Dr. King? I can write most of this quote from memory:
"I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal."
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
I have a dream today."
(The full speech can be found here.)
The words. The passion. That we all could evoke such emotion in our writing!
Secondly, Dr. King cleared a path for many black writers to create stories in a more free society. Nothing was fixed right away--Dr. King lost his life to the cause and many more people would suffer humiliation, torture, loss, and even death. That still goes on today, but in much less occurrence thanks to Dr. King.
We've talked about journalists writing in the midst of battle in countries where they are not wanted and where a free press is illegal. But think of the black Americans who risked their lives to speak out. And because of their bravery and the bravery of others, everyone is free to speak out today in the United States.
Many have suffered oppression--women, American Indians, aboriginal tribes in Australia, the lower castes in India, political opponents in Argentina and Brazil, the Kurds and Armenians, both the Tutsis and Hutus in different periods.
Many of those groups still suffer oppression. And it is the job of great writers to bring their stories to the world. Because of freedom fighters like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., black writers everywhere can be heard.
I leave you with his voice.