It was Aug. 31, 1967, in Chicago, during the opening of the National Conference on New Politics. The conference was a diverse cultural and political gathering that included White leftists and Black Militants, all convened by the idea of enhancing the “reform” movement that had begun to sweep the nation. The Vietnam War was in full swing. The Civil Rights Movement was transitioning into the Black Power Movement, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was in the midst of a steady evolution that took him further and further away from his dream. His analysis of the day and times had led him to the brink of a defiant militancy, one that made him incapable of remaining America’s non-threatening, anti-segregation darling. Instead, his voice took on a manner more similar to that of Stokely Carmichael and El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz. There was no mincing of words. There was little time given to frivolity.
In this first of a series of audio recordings from Dr. King’s speech that evening, you will hear him talk about what happens to a dream deferred. Yet, in this instance, he is speaking of his own dream, his experience of being booed by Black youth, and his growing disenchantment with American politics. For those in need of a fresh new look at the man described as an American hero, this will provide you with a much less quixotic look at a man who was rapidly growing even more heroic, in the face of pressure and practices that were increasingly anti-the American ideal.
Take a listen.