The Poor People's Campaign of 1968
King's Dream Unfulfilled or Unfinished?
Linda E. Thomas
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered the “I Have a Dream” speech on August 28, 1963, at the famous March on Washington. In the United States, we celebrate King's birthday as a national holiday on the third Monday of January. Thousands of people march in cities across the country to remember King's prophetic voice and to continue the work of justice and reconciliation he began. Over forty years have passed since King delivered his landmark speech, but each year it plays over loudspeakers to an ever-changing audience. The celebrations and activism bring together a striking level of multicultural and multigenerational diversity. The public gatherings remind us that King's call to action inspires not only the generation that stood with King, but also each generation since. The rare variety of persons and depth of commitment to King's work has convinced me that the prophetic “Dream” speech has become the most famous and most influential speech in recent United States history.
Let us now seek insight into King's person and prophecy in three ways: first by locating him within the historical stream of prophet-dreamers, second by examining the Poor People's Campaign (PPC) as an important component of King's dream, and finally by reflecting theologically about the timeless prophetic call for God's people to care for persons living in poverty throughout the world.