For the first time since 1963, Martin Luther King’s era-defining I Have a Dream’ speech will be broadcast in its entirety to a global audience by BBC Radio 4 and BBC World Service.
Dr King’s voice, recorded on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC in 1963, will open and close the speech. In between, listeners will hear from the guest speakers, who have been invited to read a section of the speech specially chosen to resonate with their life and work.
The speech will be recreated in its entirety using audio from Dr King’s original delivery interwoven with lines specially recorded by contemporary figures whose work is felt to chime with the ideals articulated in the speech. – BBC
Those speaking parts of the speech include His Holiness the Dalai Lama; Ndileka Mandela, first granddaughter of Nelson Mandela; Nobel laureates John Hume, Shirin Ebadi, Muhammad Yunus and President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia; Doreen Lawrence, campaigner for justice and against racism in the police; and Malala Yousafzai, the 16-year-old Pakistani schoolgirl shot by the Taliban for going to school.
Martin Luther King’s words constitute one of the most passionate political statements of the 20th century, a source of inspiration in the quest for freedom in so many different countries around the world.
I am delighted that Radio 4 is able to bring the whole speech to a global audience for the first time since 1963. I’m also thrilled that we have managed to gather such a distinguished host of contributors to mark the 50th anniversary. – Gwyneth Williams, Controller, BBC Radio 4
The special recording of the speech will also feature contributions from: Congressman John Lewis, who addressed the same crowd as Dr King on 28th August, 1963; singer-songwriter Joan Baez, who marched on the front line of the civil rights movement with Dr King; writer Maya Angelou, a coordinator for Dr King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference; Mary Robinson, former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and first female President of Ireland; Ariel Dorfman, the Chilean-American writer and human rights campaigner; Wei Jingsheng, the Chinese democracy campaigner; Indian peace activist Satish Kumar; and Maestro Abreu of the Fundación Musical Simón Bolívar.
The speech, which draws on the rhetorical traditions of the King James Bible, African-American spirituals and the urgent political concerns of 1960s America, has entered the annals as one of the iconic rallying cries of the modern political age. Clayborne Carson, professor of history at Stanford University and editor of the King Papers, will introduce the speech with a personal recollection of his involvement in events at the Lincoln Memorial the day the speech was delivered. – BBC
I Have a Dream will air at 9am on the 28th of August on Radio 4. It will be accompanied by a specially commissioned slideshow on the Radio 4 website as well as personal reflections offered by some of the contributors. The programme will also air later in the day at 2.30pm GMT on BBC World Service.
The beeb’s broadcast is one of a number of events marking the anniversary, on Sunday NBC aired a special edition of Meet The Press (pictured), which included clips of an archive edition from August 1963 featuring Luther King, and thousands of people marched in a I Have A Dream rally in Washington DC on Saturday.