I do not remember the first time I heard Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. say, "I Have a Dream..." I confess every time I hear it, it rings with the resonance and song of a poem. Dr. King's passion and determination and belief possess the rhythm and cadence, transforming his words from a speech to an oration.
I do remember the first time I read "Letter from Birmingham Jail": Salem College, Main Hall, English Wing, 3rd Floor, Creative Nonfiction with Professor Penelope Niven, (though I, and my peers, should have memorized it verbatim by the time we left middle school). Written in response to a letter written by eight white clergyman to a newspaper, "Letter from Birmingham Jail" is, in my humble opinion, the manifesto of the Civil Rights Movement. Read it. If you read nothing else this year, please read it and share it with your children, your neighbors. Not only is it a perfect persuasive essay, it is a testimony to Dr. King's personal dedication and humility and devotion to his faith. It is timeless, for "injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." It is transcendent, because truth, real, honest, rare truth, knows no bounds.