Editorial on Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I have a dream" speech, 1963
'THE TIME IS NOW Dr. King Unequalled In Moving a Crowd FDITOR S NOTE In his 15 years as an AP newsman, Geoffrey Gould has covered counties speeches. He now helps to cover the House of Representatives, where speeches flow very freely. In this story he writes of his personal reaction to the speech that drew the loudest cheers at Washington's big civil rights demonstration. WASHINGTON lP-This is a report on a speech hy Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by a reporter who has been trained for 15 years to keep his own opinions out of the news. It breaks the rule. The Rev. Dr. King made the speech yesterday on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Listening to him were some 200,000 Negroes and whiles who had joined the march on Washington. It was my assignment to follow the line of march and reported doings among the crowd by a walkie-talkie radio phone. On the way back down Constitution avenue afterward, I fell in with a Negro man named Joe Hatchett from Danville, Va. 1 asked him what he thought the best part of the day had been. Mr. Hatchett said "Well, there were many high spots during the day, but I would have to say it was Martin Luther King. That man is some powerhouse." I don't think many there would have given a different answer. Nor would I. In many years of listening to speeches I have not heard its equal. Dr. King is not really a polished orator. He fumbles for a word sometimes. He misses with a phrase. But he is a magician nonetheless. He spoke of the 100 years that have passed since Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, and that Negroes still are fighting for their full rights. "The time is now," he said. In front of me, a stocky Negro man, as if to him.self, breathed "Now." The Rev. Dr. King repeated the phrase, "The time is now!" "Now! said the man in front of me. 'I Have a Dream' He went on saying, "I have a dream." Even in the red hills of Georgia, he said, black and white will sit down together at the table of brotherhood. "I have a dream." Even in Mississippi, he said, this will come to pass. "I have a dream. Yes, one day." And his voice went on. He recited "Mv Country Tis of Theee" almost in a sing-song, then took j up the final phrase, "Let free- dom ring." From every hill and mound in the country, he said, "Let freedom ring." From Stone Mountain, Georgia, "Let freedom ring." From Lookout Mountain, Tennessee, "Let freedom ring." Each time he said it, it was like the tolling of a bell. My man in front of me said, "Yes, make it ring!"