As you surely know by now, today marks the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s legendary “I Have A Dream” speech. One of the major criticisms from that historic event back in 1963, was the fact that the women were completely left off the program. Dorothy Height, the woman who headed the National Council of Negro Women, was supposed to speak that day but something happened. Thelma Daley, director of Women in the NAACP, told the Washington Post they were waiting for her to speak: “We didn’t know the full story. We didn’t know the dynamics. We didn’t know the inner workings. She was too much of a diplomat to tell us.”
Though women weren’t on the program, their presence was still felt. Gospel singer, Mahalia Jackson encouraged Dr. King to deliver the most famous line from his speech that day: “I Have A Dream.” He had delivered the “I Have A Dream” line before in Detroit and his advisers didn’t want him to use it again. But Mahalia Jackson, who sang at the ’63 march, yelled out during his speech, “Tell ’em about the dream, Martin.” And that’s when he started the iconic line with “I still have a dream…”
Today, in the program itself we saw just how far we’ve advanced. We still have work to do but this year, women were surely involved in the program. Check out the short listen of women who spoke at the #LetFreedomRing event.