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National Commentary

Re-examining The Famous “Dream” of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

By Rosaland Tyler
Associate Editor
New Journal and Guide

A lot of high profile types were infants or babes in their mother’s womb when the Rev. Dr. Martin L. King, Jr., walked up the steps of the nation’s capital, unrolled his speech, and said character, not race should determine your destiny in his historic “I Have A Dream” speech on Aug. 28, 1963,

One example is Barack Obama, the recent recipient of The Gallup Organization’s “Most Admired” man award. Obama was about 2 years old when Dr. King was adjusting his microphone before TV cameras at the 1963 March on Washington. Meanwhile his wife, Michelle, the recent recipient of the “Most Admired” woman award and the author of the runaway bestseller, “Becoming,” was born in a Chicago hospital about five months after the march, on Jan. 17, 1964.

Also, while Dr. King was fumbling with his mic and clearing his throat at the historic 1963 “March on Washington,” Kendrick Lamar, who in February became the first rapper to win the Pulitzer Prize for music, was not even born. Lamar was born in a hospital in Compton on June 17, 1987. Raphael Bostic, was born in 1966 in New Jersey. Bostic was the first African-American to lead any of the Fed’s 12 regional reserve banks in the central bank’s 105-year history.

The point is most dreams describe death and Dr. King’s celebrated dream was not an exception. It does not take a leap of faith to understand that you enter a near deathlike state while you are sleeping or daydreaming. Since dreams, according to Swiss psychiatrist and dream expert Dr. Carl Jung, “are invariably seeking to express something that the ego does not know and does not understand,” Dr. King, would probably have flashed his trademark smile after he learned 1,025 U.S. adults judged the Obama’s on character (not race) in Gallup’s recent annual poll conducted Dec. 3-12.

King would have smiled because a dream is a type of messenger – a spokesman. “The subconscious does not waste too much spit telling you what you already know,” said Marie-Louise von Franz a Swiss Jungian psychologist and scholar. And that may explain why Dr. King’s historic speech was only 17 minutes long.

What arose from the ashes during Dr. King’s historic, 17-minute speech titled, “I Have A Dream,” were vague visions and images that you can’t miss these day. In plain terms, the Obamas, Lamar, and Bostic did not exist when Dr. King gave his speech. So he did not waste too much spit on them in his celebrated speech at the “March on Washington” on Aug. 28, 1963. But he saw them coming. And he saw the decline of nefarious forces that would thwart them from coming into existence since dreams always express forbidden wishes that have to be disguised, said Dr. Sigmund Freud, in his 1900 book, “Interpretation of Dreams.”


This means those today who are living Dr. King’s dream illustrate the point. “Dreams are impartial, spontaneous products of the unconscious psyche, outside the control of the will,” Dr. Jung wrote in his autobiography that was published about six decades after Dr. Freud’s book was published, and long after their famous split, “They (dreams) are pure nature; they show us the unvarnished, natural truth.”

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This is the point. A dream is only a type of spokesperson or messenger, Dr. Jung said, pointing to a vivid dream that announced his own mother’s passing in his autobiography, which he wrote at age 83.

“News of her death came to me while I was staying in Tessin,” he wrote. “I was deeply shaken, for it had come with unexpected suddenness. The night before her death I had a frightening dream. I was in a dense, gloomy forest.”

Dr. Jung continued, “Suddenly, I heard a piercing whistle … My knees shook … The blood froze in my veins … Suddenly I knew: the Wild Huntsman had commanded it to carry away a human soul. I awoke in deadly terror, and the next morning I received the news of mother’s passing.”

Do you see the point? Neither Dr. Jung nor Dr. King called the Grim Reaper by name in their respective dreams. Yet, the ominous curtains of death flutter in both dreams. At a gut level, Dr. Jung’s dream sounded the death knell for his mother, like Dr. King’s historic dream sounded the death knell for racial injustice, inequality, and “the dark and desolate valley of segregation.” (Dr. King used all of these terms in his “I Have A Dream speech).

While Dr. Jung used shadowy words like “dense” and “gloomy” to describe his dream in the forest. Notice how Dr. King’s historic speech just cuts loose and speaks. “There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights,” Dr. King said at the historic “March on Washington.”

He added, “The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright days of justice emerge.”

Pointing to troubling realities that needed to kick the bucket, Dr. King said, “We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways … We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro’s mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one.”

Dr. King wrapped up his dream in about 20 minutes. “No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

The point is if a dream expresses itself openly, and aims to compensate for qualities that are missing in one’s waking life, (as Dr. Jung said), then it explains why Dr. King suddenly changed the subject in his historic speech. “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

… to be continued
Next Week

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