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Barack Obama’s election as president had a thousand fathers in the long history of the struggle against American racism. But three events stand out as decisive in creating the possibility of an African-American president.So begins Anthony Lewis' review of a new book which examines in depth both Dr. King's 'I have a dream' speech and the context in which it was delivered.
The first, in 1863, was Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, which promised freedom but was followed by a century of harsh discrimination. The second was the Supreme Court’s 1954 decision in Brown v. Board of Education, signaling the end of legal tolerance for discrimination. The third was the speech the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave at the March on Washington in 1963, 100 years after Lincoln’s proclamation.
From that day to this, I do not think I had known that the last, the most famous, third of the speech was delivered ex tempore, as King departed from his prepared remarks.
And it was that departure which has given us, as Eric Sundquist, the book's author notes 'a new national scripture'.
Read the review here. Find the book here --
By Eric J. Sundquist
Illustrated. 295 pp. Yale University Press. $26