Thoughts, essays, and writings on Liberty. Written by the heirs of Patrick Henry.

“Many people want the government to protect the consumer. A much more urgent problem is to protect the consumer from the government.”     Milton Friedman

January 16, 2012

Quote of the Day: MLK Day 2012 Edition

by Stephen Littau

Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech is unquestionably one of the most infamous famous speeches in American history. In listening to the speech today, I found the following passages that aren’t as often quoted to be some of the most powerful lines in the speech.

In a sense we have come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.” But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check — a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.

America has come a long way since King delivered this speech. Racial and ethnic minorities have made great strides thanks to courageous individuals like King who made a stand for liberty and justice (and in King’s case, paid with his life) and we are all better off for it.

Here is the rest of the speech. Listen and be inspired.

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  1. Great post. I’d never listened to the entire speech, but after that excerpt (which I’d also never heard), I listened this morning.

    I’d agree: that passage is about the best the speech has to offer. How amazing that I’d never heard or read it before.


    Comment by thomasblair — January 17, 2012 @ 5:54 am
  2. I think you mean “famous” rather than “infamous”. Or maybe not.

    Great post!

    Comment by Grammar Nazi — January 17, 2012 @ 6:22 am
  3. Did you mean “infamous”? If so why?

    Comment by Bob — January 17, 2012 @ 6:32 am
  4. Thanks Grammar Nazi and Bob. I used the wrong word.

    Comment by Stephen Littau — January 17, 2012 @ 7:08 am

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