Dr. Martin Luther King Junior's powerful "I Have A Dream" speech at the March on Washington still resonates more than a half century later. At the Museum of the City of NY Curator Sarah Seidman wants visitors to see how deeply complex and controversial his writings and speeches were.
"So we were really excited to be able to share this photograph of King speaking at Riverside church in April 1967 against the Vietnam War. People said "you're a civil rights leader why are you speaking out against the Vietnam War?" and king always saw human rights and civil rights, and the local and the global connected," she told us.
You can listen to some of the speech, which drew angry criticism from President Lyndon Johnson and The NY Times.
We can also dig deeper into his most famous speech. "We don't often say the full title "The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom," that it was an economic justice march as much as anything else and how economic and racial justice are tied," Sarah reminded us.
That march was mostly organized from Harlem by a local activist and union leader. The museum's current exhibit on activism in NY highlights King's close ties to the city.
"He was an honorary New Yorker made so by Mayor Wagner in 1964, but he spent a lot of time in the city. Organizing the march on Washington and many other marches here and other campaigns for social justice," said Seidman.
Throughout the museum’s exhibitions and even its archive there are so many important artifacts and photographs of MLK Jr., but what's important is to remember his story is not just about the past.
“I have a Dream speech lives up to its hype, but there's so much more to him that we all should be reminded of every year, a call to action in terms of community service but also to continue to fight for racial equality," said Seidman.
And of course, that's part of how we keep the dream alive, around the country, and here in New York.