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Recalling the "Dream" Speech, 45 Years On

The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. on August 28, 1963.

By Alec MacGillis
DENVER -- Chatter among convention-goers here has it that the classical columns inside the football stadium where Barack Obama will deliver his speech tonight are meant to evoke not imperial grandeur but the Lincoln Memorial, before which the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his "I have a dream" speech 45 years ago this day.

But for one Obama delegate here today, making that link required no architectural flourishes. John Rauh, a former U.S. Senate candidate from New Hampshire who now runs a campaign reform organization, was one of Obama's first prominent supporters in the Granite State. He is also the nephew of Joe Rauh, the legendary civil rights lawyer and founder of Americans for Democratic Action.

Forty-five years ago, Joe Rauh was in the van that drove to Capitol Hill to pick up King, who had been lobbying on behalf of civil rights legislation, and take him to the Mall to deliver his speech.

As John Rauh tells it, his uncle was surprised, if not mildly concerned, when he asked King about whether he was ready for the speech and found that King had given relatively little thought to it, distracted as he was by everything else he had going on. "He said, Joe, I've been on the Hill all morning. I've been working on this legislation,'" John Rauh recounted his uncle's story.

When King delivered the speech, the elder Rauh saw that King had perhaps been understating his preparation -- but he also saw that the speech was, in essence, a fuller realization of themes that Rauh had heard King experimenting with in speeches and remarks in the previous months. "I recall Joe saying that [King] had tested out the concepts, spoken about a 'dream,' but it had never come together as it did that day. He looked out over the crowd and it all came together. It was from the heart and the soul," John Rauh said.

John Rauh is, of course, thinking today of his uncle, who had gone into civil rights work after his father determined that there was only room in the family's Cincinnati shirt-making business for John's father. Joe Rauh died in 1992. "I cried last night and I'm going to cry now. Many people helped bring about what's happening now," he said. "I wish he could be here."

By Web Politics Editor  |  August 28, 2008; 4:14 PM ET
Categories:  Barack Obama  
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Most McCain voters are employed.

Posted by: JakeD | August 28, 2008 11:17 PM | Report abuse

JakeD: So many people "care" about McCain's Veep pick he can't even give away 10,000 tix to see the "event" tomorrow.... lol. The McCain's don't hold a candle to the Obamas ... and if you want to see a hilarious parody of the woman who stole drugs from her charity, stole her husband from a disfigured first wife and stole her $100 Million inheritance from her 2 half-siblings, cutting off their credit cards for good measure, just check out this parody ... and I'll give you a hint ... it's not Michelle Obama ...

Posted by: Did I mention I'm a POW??? | August 28, 2008 9:51 PM | Report abuse

When Obama gives his stadium acceptance speech at the Democratic convention, it will be the night of the 45th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech. You can count on breathless reporters waxing dreamy about Dr. King’s vision fulfilled that historic night. However, not all African Americans agree. “Barack Obama is directly contrary to many positions and beliefs of Martin Luther King, Jr.,” says black author William Owens, Jr. “Obama is trying to make African Americans believe he is the reality of the Dream come true, but he’s not. It’s a nightmare.”

A recent Gallup poll reveals 91 percent of African Americans intend to vote for Obama. Nevertheless, there are dissenting voices trying to reach their community with a warning about the candidate. Dr. Alveda King, daughter of MLK’s younger brother, the late slain civil rights activist Rev. A.D. King, says, “Senator Obama’s answer to the ills of society, of higher government spending, weaker national defense, continued tax dollars to Planned Parenthood, and support of gay marriage, are diametrically opposed to everything African Americans truly believe and an anathema to the dream of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.”

“It is high time for Black America, White America and all America to stop making their ethnicity such a big deal that we become zealous for our color over being zealous for what is right and what is truth,” says Owens.

Mr. Owens, founder of Black Americans for Real Change (BARC), makes it known, “I will not remain silent out of fear of repercussions because it is politically incorrect for Blacks to challenge Blacks.” He says one aspect of Obama’s candidacy is “intimidation because many people are afraid to scrutinize Obama and speak out because of the race Issue.” Owens believes Obama is manipulative of African Americans because “in reality he is not a Black American. His heritage is Muslim -- not African American” and calls Obama a pretender and panderer. He points out that the candidate’s record “does not remotely parallel the values, traditions and struggles of Black America.”

Having studied both MLK and Obama, Owens felt compelled to write a book to challenge African Americans “to look deeper at Barack Obama the man, his voting record, and his position on the important issues facing our country.” He urges them not to “put your race before your principles,” the truth, your family and your own country. His book, “Obama: Why Black America Should Have Doubts” has one chapter comparing the policies of the two men who are poles apart on many issues. Every American should read this eye-opening book. Owens says, “it is obvious Obama is trying to solidify the Black vote”, but he reiterates that any candidate needs to be closely examined.

With Obama’s voiced support and voting record for partial-birth abortion and every other pro-abortion bill, Alveda King takes issue with the senator over this topic. From firsthand experience she had before she was “born again” in 1983, King knows the problems a woman can suffer because of abortion. She is now a leader in both the pro-life and civil rights movements. “We can talk about poverty; we can talk about the war; we can talk about teen pregnancy; we can talk about incarceration. However, if we’re not allowed to live, we’ll never encounter those issues.” Although Blacks make up only 14 percent of the population, 40 percent of the abortions in the country are preformed on Black women, thus creating a virtual genocide of African Americans.

King recalls her Uncle Martin saying, “The Negro cannot win as long as he is willing to sacrifice the lives of his children for comfort and safety.” For Alveda King, abortion is a civil rights issue. “Every aborted baby is like a slave in the womb of his or her mother,” she explains. “The mother decides his or her fate.”
“In the shadow of the famous ‘I Have a Dream’ speech by my uncle in 1963, as Barack Obama makes his speech in 2008, how can the Dream survive if we murder the children?” asks Dr. King concerning the unborn. "Life was very precious to my uncle and life today is precious.”

“Our best interests as Black Americans,” Owens says, “…lie in a new direction that reflects our core beliefs and values, not merely a resemblance of someone we look like.”

Again quoting her uncle, King says, “‘there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but one must take it because it is right.’” She passionately adds, “This is not the time to be silent; this is not the time to give Barack Obama a free pass! There is too much at stake.”

Posted by: caroltate2 | August 28, 2008 8:45 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: JakeD | August 28, 2008 7:19 PM | Report abuse


I "care" (check out the McCain Picks VP thread which currently has more posts than all the Obama threads combined : )

Posted by: JakeD | August 28, 2008 7:18 PM | Report abuse

Martin Luther King, Jr. was a great American hero and one of the most inspired and inspirational public speakers of all time. I do not understand why people need to bash Dr. King and undercut his achievements in his 12 short years of public life and courageous leadership. If a hero is required to be a perfect person in order to be a hero, then we would have no American heroes. If history were different and America had not had the privilege to experience Dr. King's wisdom, courage, and leadership, I do not think Barack Obama would be speaking tonight as the Democratic nominee.

Posted by: pat | August 28, 2008 6:46 PM | Report abuse

What's this news about McCain announcing his VP? I don't think anyone really cares. The way his campaign is going he'll probably choose someone that is most like George W Bush.

Posted by: Bill | August 28, 2008 6:33 PM | Report abuse

Why should i believe you if you publish john doe comment

Posted by: tony | August 28, 2008 6:28 PM | Report abuse

Now he can't invoke MLK 'cause he's actually white... but ealier you say we can't trust him because he's a white-hating black.

You hate him because he's Muslim; at the same time you hate him for having attended that Christian church for 30 years.

Sarcasm aside, regardless if one agrees with his policies, it's a truly historical and proud moment in that this nation once again set an example to the whole world, that we can embrace people of different color and background. This is what makes this country great.

Posted by: foo | August 28, 2008 6:27 PM | Report abuse


Google "Larry Sinclair"

Posted by: JakeD | August 28, 2008 6:25 PM | Report abuse

Oh, and I think Obama is MUCH better that JFK or MLK. No one, to my knowledge, has any reason to believe the Obama has or would betray his wife or children like those two liars. I won't vote for Obama, but if his status as a family man is true, I respect him a lot more than the supposed heroes he invoked.

Posted by: Aun Thelevee | August 28, 2008 6:17 PM | Report abuse

Why do we not hold MLK to the same standard as other famous Americans (many of whom, I think, did more to deserve their fame that MLK)? He projected a good message. He did not deserve to die. I understand that it is important to create cult-like figures in order to placate certain groups. Fine. But why don't the same folks who insist on mentioning Jefferson's sexual involvement with a slave also insist on mentioning MLK's plagarized dissertation and his infidelity WHILE PORTRAYING HIMSELF AS A BAPTIST MINISTER??!!?? He does not deserve his own day. He did not help ALL Americans. He was, at best, a deeply flawed man who served a useful purpose.

Posted by: Aun Thelevee | August 28, 2008 6:15 PM | Report abuse

The nerve this neophite Senator Obama has to ride the "Modern JFK" and "I Have a Dream" gravy train by making his acceptance speech in a ballpark, just like JFK did in 1960, and on the anniversary of MLK historic message 45 years ago. You, sir, are no Jack Kennedy nor MLK. I guess you deserve a lesson in humility on November 2008.

Posted by: john_doe_washington_dc | August 28, 2008 6:10 PM | Report abuse

Doesn't matter what party you vote, this speech speaks to me as a leftist. All struggles in this world are against the oppressive State and or church, so read, question, and do not trust anything!

Posted by: I Have A Dream... | August 28, 2008 6:09 PM | Report abuse

"Obama supoorters should read "Why Martin Luther King was a Republican" by Frances Rice before they vote."

Any political party affiliations before about 1970 mean nothing - if not the reverse of what is expected - today.

The Party of Lincoln no longer exists. It's now the party of the "Southern Strategy".

Posted by: Daniel, Louisiana | August 28, 2008 6:07 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: JakeD | August 28, 2008 6:02 PM | Report abuse

Obama supoorters should read "Why Martin Luther King was a Republican" by Frances Rice before they vote.

Posted by: mb | August 28, 2008 5:41 PM | Report abuse

Invoke MLK's "I have a dream" speech. Wow! The man raised, nurtured and educated by whites is trying to invoke the giants of the Civil Rights Era. What does Obama know about being black in America? Black enough to make whites comfortable, even giddy about proving that they are not racists.

Posted by: David | August 28, 2008 5:37 PM | Report abuse

You may not believe in Barack Obama, but he believes in you! He'll restore the American dream to all of us, conservatives and liberals alike. And for the wealthy elite that have been so well served by the Republicans, you too will enjoy the benefits of a strengthened and more prosperous nation. It'll cost ya, but you'll be happier.

Posted by: Fisconserve | August 28, 2008 5:13 PM | Report abuse

I am neither jealous nor Republican. Next canard?

Posted by: JakeD | August 28, 2008 5:08 PM | Report abuse

Jealous Republicans like JakeD wish their candidate could give a good speech. They are left to snark about the trappings.

Posted by: Chuck | August 28, 2008 4:59 PM | Report abuse

Nonetheless, "architectural flourishes" is what Barack APOLLO Obama got -- I've heard that it was ordered PRIOR TO the Big BO's European Adventure -- a replica of the Lincoln Memorial would have "evoked" the Lincoln Memorial better, don't you think?

Posted by: JakeD | August 28, 2008 4:24 PM | Report abuse

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