In August of 1983 after the 20th anniversary program at the Lincoln Memorial of the I Have a Dream speech the present writer looked out across the National Mall at a sea of white and blue programs that littered the Mall and the streets where people had gathered to remember the great speech and speaker.
Picking up a hand full of trash only left an ocean more. It was ironic that people came to honor a great man who gave his life in service to others; yet, they did not even bother to pick up their trash after honoring his service. Martin Luther King was very clear on street cleaning and service.
"No work is insignificant. If a man is called a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the host of heaven and earth will pause to say, 'Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well,'" King said.
It took days for city workers and park rangers to clean the debris that the 20th anniversary celebrants left behind. The question at that time was what would Martin Luther King think about people who came to honor him and left their trash all over the ground that he made sacred for 22 million people who had been denied their rights as American citizens. "I neither started the protest nor suggested it. I simply responded to the call of the people for a spokesman," King said.
The memory of the discarded trash was still a bleak reminder between the difference in what people say and what they do. A year after the 20th anniversary of the I Have A Dream speech, inspired by Dr. King's message of service the journalist who helped the city workers to pick up trash in August of 1983 was cleaning trash off the floors of a West African college classroom helping to beautify the school before classes began.
It was Dr. King's message of service that inspired the writer to turn down $50, 000 to go to Africa to serve the poor. Still picking up trash off the floor. "Everyone can be great because everyone can serve," Dr. King said. Martin Luther King would have picked up his program and paper after the event. A man who was his best friend and knew him better than most was Dr. Major Jones of the Atlanta University Center.
"Marty believed what he preached. That is what made him different. He actually believed the things he said. Many men give speeches without the slightest intent of practicing what they preached. Martin Luther King believed every word that he said. He lived by his words," Jones said.
As hundreds of thousands of people will gather around the nation on Wednesday August 28, 2013, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the I Have A Dream speech Bank of America will replay the speech on their website.
The streets and grounds around the celebration will be photographed by the present journalist after the celebration is over. Those scenes will be on this page after the event is over. "What would Martin Luther King do?" The 50th anniversary of the I Have a Dream speech will be a time of remembrance and service. It will also be a time to keep America beautiful and to be good street sweepers to keep our streets clean.
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To hear the I Have a Dream speech as Dr. King gave it go to: Bankofamerica.com.