Perspective: Memories of King's 'I have a dream' speech

On Wednesday, Aug. 28, it will be the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream speech” at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C.

It is a date that cannot go by unnoticed.

“I have a dream ...” Dr. King said, again and again, as his speech gained momentum, as his passion soared, and as the cadence captivated listeners.

The speech is known for its historical significance, for its message of fairness and equality, and for its majestic delivery.

“I have a dream ...”

Generations of Americans can still hear Dr. King’s voice as they honor his memory.

Dr. Roy Buckelew was one of my college professors and he spoke very admirably about Dr. King. Dr. Buckelew was a speech professor fascinated by memorable speeches made by great orators.

He told us how he heard Dr. King’s “I have a dream” speech on his car radio when it was originally delivered on Aug. 28, 1963.

“I was so caught up in the rhythm of the speech,” Dr. Buckelew said, “that I had to pull my car over and just listen to it.”

He was, like many Americans, truly mesmerized by Dr. King’s delivery.

But while he was impressed with the captivating address, he was moved even more by the greatness of the man.

Dr. Buckelew used to tell us that one of the key ingredients of a good speech was that it be delivered by “a good man.” By “good man” he meant that the person making the speech be one of great passion and great character, and one that spoke with great conviction from the very depths of his being.

Dr. King fit the bill in that regard and Dr. Buckelew knew it.

And he made sure we knew it.

Dr. Buckelew had a positive influence on hundreds of students over the years and I was one of those. Dr. King had a great impact on entire generations, including my own.

Both men were great within their own sphere of influence, but it was Dr. King who had the much bigger stage.

As we know, his life was abruptly ended by an assassin’s bullet in Memphis on March 29, 1968. Dr. Buckelew died of natural causes on Aug. 18, 2005.

One of Dr. Buckelew’s students wrote, “Roy was a big man in stature, life, and spirit. He had that robust, polished voice of a professional speaker with the gentleness and kindness of a grandfather.”

One of his colleagues said, “... he clearly felt that he was here for the students and not the other way around. He was adamant that relationships were more important than rules and abstract concepts .... I believe his influence will be with us for a long time.”

I deeply appreciated learning from a good man like Dr. Buckelew and I’m glad he pointed us to other great individuals like Martin Luther King, Jr.

And I’m extremely proud of a country that produced both.

David Wilson, EdD, is one of the assistant principals at Jefferson City High School. You may e-mail him at david.wilson@jcschools.us.

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