The Pattern

Repeated Themes

A -- Word of the Lord
.B -- The Lord’s Covenant

..C -- The World
...D -- The Lord's Servant

....E -- Preservation
.....F -- The Suffering Servant
.....F' -- Atonement
....E’ -- Salvation

...D’ -- The Lord's Servant
..C’ -- Overcoming the World

.B’ -- Fulfillment
A’ -- Salvation Song

~

KEY WORDS

A. Hear this, Hearken, Praise, Name, etc.

B. Promise(s), Inheritance, New Things, Hidden Things, Things of God, Shall Come to pass, etc.

C. World, Wicked, Contentions, Apostasy, Satan, Egypt, Babylon, Earth, etc. [feminine]

D. Servant, Prophet, Moses, Truth, Righteousness, Kingdom, Heaven, etc. [masculine]

E. Preserved, Salvation, Pillars, Gates, Manna, Wine, etc. -- boldly

F. Suffering, Afflicted, Despised, Rejected, etc. -- nobly

F'. Oneness, Unity, Embrace, Kiss, Throne, Name, Glory, etc. -- nobly

E’. Salvation, Exalted, Preserved, Inheritance, Mercy, etc. -- independent

D’. Servant, Prophet, Truth, Righteousness, Kingdom, Heaven, Eternity, etc. [masculine]

C’. Overcome, World, Wicked, Cut Off, Contentions; Judgment, Destruction, Earth, etc. [feminine]

B’. Fulfill, Restoration, Deliverance, Covenant(s), Promise(s), Inheritance, etc.

A’. Hosanna, Name, Amen, Sing, etc.

I Have a Dream

Delivered by Martin Luther King, Jr. on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, August 28, 1963. (Listen to audio here.)

A — The Greatest Demonstration for Freedom  
I’m happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation. * 

B — The Emancipation Proclamation 
Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

C — An Exile in His Own Land
(a.) But one hundred years later, the Negro (*1) still is not free. (b.) One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and (c.) the chains of discrimination. (d.) One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. (e.) One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and (f.) finds himself an exile in his own land.

D — Honoring This Sacred Obligation
(a.) So we’ve come here today to dramatize the shameful condition. In a sense we’ve come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. (b.) When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. (c.) This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, (*2) would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. (d.) Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.”

(e.) But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. (f.) So we’ve come to cash this check – a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.

E — Stand on the Warm Threshold which leads into the Palace of Justice
(a.) We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. (b.) Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. (*3) (c.) Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation (d.) to the sunlit path of racial justice. (e.) Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. (f.) Now is the time to make justice a reality for (*4) all of God’s children.

(a.) It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. (*5) This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until (b.) there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-­three is not an end, but a beginning. (c.) Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. (d.) There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America till the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. (e.) The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges. (f.) But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice.

F — Our Struggle on the High Plane of Dignity and Discipline
(a.) In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. (b.) Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. (d.) We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. (c.) We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence.

(e.) Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. (f.) The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. They have come to realize their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone. And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back.

E’ — Justice Rolls Down like Waters and Righteousness like a Mighty Stream
(a.) There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “When will you be satisfied?” (b.) We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is a victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. (*6) (c.) 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 and the hotels of the cities. (*7) (d.) We can not be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote.

(e.) No — no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters (f.) and righteousness like a mighty stream.

F’ — Veterans of Creative Suffering . . . Unearned Suffering is Redemptive
(a.) I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. (b.) Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. (c.) Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution (d.) ­staggered by the winds of police brutality.  

(e.) You have been the veterans of creative suffering. (f.) Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.

C’ — Let Us not Wallow in the Valley of Despair
Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, (*8) go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.

D’ – I Have a Dream
(a.) I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-­evident: that all men are created equal.”

 (b.) I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave-owners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood.

  (c.) I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state (*9), sweltering with the heat of injustice – sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

   (d.) I have a dream that my four 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. I have a dream today.

    (e.) I have a dream that one day down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification, one day right there in Alabama (*10) little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls (*11) as sisters and brothers. I have a dream today.

     (f.) I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

B’ — We Will Be Free One Day
(a.) This is our hope. (b.) This is the faith that I go back to the South with. (c/d.) With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. (c/d.) With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. (e.) With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, (f.) knowing that we will be free one day.

A’ – Let Freedom Ring
(a.) This will be the day – This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with a new meaning, “My country, ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.”

 (b.) And if America is to be a great nation this must become true.

  (c/d.) So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania! Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado! Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California!

  (c/d.) But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia! Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee! Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi.

  (c/d.) From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

    (e.) And when this happenswhen we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city,

     (f.) we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

#

Summary outline

A — The Greatest Demonstration for Freedom  
 B — The Emancipation Proclamation

    C — An Exile in His Own Land
      D — Honoring This Sacred Obligation

        E — Stand on the Warm Threshold which leads into the Palace of Justice
          F — Our Struggle on the High Plane of Dignity and Discipline

        E’ — Justice Rolls Down like Waters and Righteousness like a Mighty Stream
          F’ — Veterans of Creative Suffering. … Unearned Suffering is Redemptive

    C’ — Let Us not Wallow in the Valley of Despair
      D’ — I Have a Dream

  B’ — We Will Be Free One Day
A’ — Let freedom ring 

Footnotes Printed vs. Spoken Versions

  1. “We must face the tragic fact that the Negro” (printed, but not spoken; see C above).
  2. Spoken, but not printed; see D above.
  3. Spoken, but not printed; see E above.
  4. “Now is the time to open the doors of opportunity to” (printed, but other phrase was spoken; see E above).
  5. “And to underestimate the determination of the Negro” (printed, but not spoken; see E above).
  6. Spoken, but not printed; see E above.
  7. “We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one.” (This extra sentence was printed, but not spoken; see E above).
  8. Spoken, but not printed; see C above.
  9. “Desert state” (printed, but not spoken; see D above).
  10. “Will be transformed into a situation where” (printed, but not spoken; see D above).
  11. “And walk together” (printed, but not spoken; see D above).

Davidic “Repetitions” used in each Macro Element

A — “Demonstration for freedom” = One time
 B — “Shadow” + “Light” + “Daybreak” = Three times

  C — “One hundred years later” Four times + [Ellipsis] Two Times = Six times
   D — “We’ve come” Three times + “We refuse to believe” Two times + “Architects of our republic” + “America” Two times + [Ellipsis] = Nine times

    E — “Now is the time” Four times + “Urgency of now” + “Urgency of the moment” = Six times
     F — “We must” = Six times

    E’ — “When will you be satisfied?” + “We can never be satisfied” Five times = Six times
     F’ — “Some of you have come” Three times + [Ellipsis] Three times = Six times

  C’ — “Go back” = Six times
   D’ — “I have a dream” = Nine times

 B’ — This is our hope” + “This is the faith” + “With this faith” Three times + “knowing” = Six times
A’ — “Let freedom ring” Eleven times + “Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!” = Twelve times

[The Davidic pattern in this speech was brought to our attention by Ginger Demke (Jared's wife).]

1 comment to Martin Luther King, Jr. — I Have a Dream

  • Scott Vanatter

    My introduction/commentary

    Please see below a few brief comparisons of some of the words and themes Martin Luther King Junior used in this seminal speech. Much more — a thousand things — could be said about each paragraph, each sentence, each phrase which he so beautifully and effectively spoke that warm Summer day.

    Beginning and ending A Structures
    A — The Greatest Demonstration for Freedom
    A’ — Let Freedom Ring

    Notice he begins this seminal speech [A] by introducing the event as the “greatest demonstration for freedom” while he ends the speech [A’] with the clarion call to “let freedom ring” citing the words of the most beautiful and poignant Negro Spiritual. (One of the most beautiful examples of a concluding A’ structure, Salvation Song, we have run across.)

    Beginning and ending B Structures
    B — The Emancipation Proclamation
    B’ — We Will Be Free One Day

    He then moves into [B] the thrust of the promise of what he and the throngs were there that day to secure, a renewal and fresh start of a modern day ‘Emancipation Proclamation’ — where he speaks of it being a “light of hope.” The fulfillment of the promise of true freedom is mirrored in his words near the end of the speech [B’], that with this “stone of hope” they know “that we will be free one day.”

    Beginning and ending C Structures
    C — An Exile in His Own Land
    C’ — Let Us not Wallow in the Valley of Despair

    He next describes the problems of living in a world [C], where “the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination” create “a lonely island of poverty” and the Negro is still “languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land.” King returns to this general theme near the end of the speech [C’] where he tells the gathered crowd to go back to “the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed.” It can be overcome. He then challenges, “Let us not wallow in the valley of despair” (even though there be segregation, discrimination, poverty, and exile).

    Beginning and ending D Structures
    D — Honoring This Sacred Obligation
    D’ — I Have a Dream

    Next he describes [D] the “promissory note” which “the architects of our republic wrote [in] the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.” “This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” He declares that “we’ve come to cash this check – a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.” He returns to this [D’] when he beautifully and memorably describes his Dream, “rooted in the American Dream.” That “one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-­evident: that all men are created equal.’” That, this land “will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.”

    Beginning and ending E Structures
    E — Stand on the Warm Threshold which leads into the Palace of Justice
    E’ — Justice Rolls Down like Waters and Righteousness like a Mighty Stream

    Then, he gets into what is perhaps the most challenging and poignant section of this speech [the center E and F sections], where such a chiastic organization in the scriptures usually bespeaks of how we are to emulate our Savior Jesus Christ (especially as he was our Exemplar as the Suffering Servant). In our studies we have found that the front E structure often has verbiage where paths or passages or some boundary is crossed to get from the E to the center F structure.

    Here [E] King speaks of “the sunlit path of racial justice.” And that his people “stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice.” (For those of you who have been in the Temple, this is where we might think of the imagery of coming into the presence of the Lord through the veil.) This is the “hallowed spot” (King’s words) where followers of Christ encounter or begin to see how Christ’s suffering was for them. Following this, King warns [E’] that “we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

    Beginning and ending F Structures
    F — Our Struggle on the High Plane of Dignity and Discipline
    F’ — Veterans of Creative Suffering. … Unearned Suffering is Redemptive

    At the very center of the speech [F], he pointedly challenges those gathered – and indeed all of us – to follow Jesus as, and whenever, we ourselves suffer (for whatever reason). “We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline.” In the most heart-felt, loving fashion, King challenges us all [F’] to be “veterans of creative suffering.” And to, “Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.”

    (This, in my opinion, is one of the keenest insights into the general state of the world where inequities too often abound. Not just here in America, where we have had to overcome racial inequities and discrimination, but across the world, where injustice of all kinds continues to exist. King challenges those who suffer to do so creatively and knowing that it is redemptive. Much more could be said about the trials and tribulations found in this world. Of course, King’s Dream is that all of this trouble will be made right and whole. We can extend this not only to America, but to the whole world.)

    The other major theme common to a center F structure is the coming together of two things, two people, two principles, etc. This is where supposed ‘separateness’ is revealed to truly be, in fact, ‘connected.’ Where two is, in fact, one; where disconnected or disparate feelings, conditions, situations, or relationships are made ‘whole.’ King most insightfully says, “many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. They have come to realize their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom.”

    When we all become aware — deep within — that we all are, indeed, brothers and sisters of a loving Heavenly Father, Martin Luther King, Junior’s Dream will come to pass for everyone, everywhere. This is – should be — our shared dream.

    ~

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