CTU President Karen Lewis to commemorate 'I Have a Dream' speech on anniversary of King speech — and the Emancipation Proclamation — as CTU prepares for a strike to stop the attacks on unions, democracy, and the nation's public schools

The Chicago Teachers Union has announced that CTU President Karen Lewis is to Commemorate the Historic Martin Luther King Jr. "I have a dream" speech at an August 28, 2012, "Town Hall Meeting; Fight for 'Better School Day'/Fair Contract". The meeting will take place at Trinity All Nations Church at 9600 s. Vincennes in Chicago. This week, the struggle for justice and against tyranny in Chicago's public schools begins to take center focus. The URL for one of the most complete versions of the "I have a dream" speech is:

August 28, 1963, Washington, D.C.According to an August 27, 2012 press release from the CTU: "CHICAGO - On Tuesday, August 28, the anniversary of the historic "I Have A Dream Speech," delivered 49 years ago by the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) President will be a featured speaker at a 6:00 p.m. town hall meeting with the theme "Education Justice: Where Do We Go From Here" The session, co-sponsored by the Union, will be held at Trinity All Nations Church, 9600 S. Vincennes. It is free and open to the public.

"Karen Lewis is expected to be joined by teachers, parents, education activists and clergy who are focused on the ongoing contract fight with the Chicago Public Schools. Other speakers include Rev. Paul Jakes, pastor of New Faith Tabernacle M.B. Church, Rev. Robert Jones, pastor, Mt. Carmel M.B. Church, education advocate Matt Farmer, and others. Chicago public school educators may be gearing up for its first strike in a quarter of a century."

AS PART OF SUBSTANCE'S CURRICULUM MATERIALS EFFORT, BELOW IS THE FULL TEXT OF THE SPEECH DELIVERED BY DR. KING. AS MANY KNOW, THE SPEECH AS DELIVERED WAS DIFFERENT FROM THE EARLY DRAFTS. The site of the speech and the date were symbolic, because Dr. King was delivering the speech on the anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation signed by President Abraham Lincoln in the midst of the Civil War that ended slavery in the USA.

Martin Luther King's I have a dream speech August 28 1963

I am 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.

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 captivity.

Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis, May 23, 2012, at the Auditorium Theatre in Chicago, addressing a rally of 3,000 prior to a march of 10,000. Substance photo by Sharon Schmidt.But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself in exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize an shameful condition.

In a sense we've come to our nation's Capital to cash a check. 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.

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.

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check; a check which has come back marked "insufficient funds."

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. So we have come to cash this check- a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.

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.

Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children.

Part of the march of 10,000 people led by the Chicago Teachers Union on May 23, 2012 as it turns on Adams St. in Chicago off Michigan Ave. The march, which stretched for more than six blocks through the Loop, was the largest march for public education in the city's history. Substance photo by Sharon Schmidt.It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. 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. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.

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. And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.

And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?"

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 and the hotels of the cities.

We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro's basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one.

We can never be satisfied as long as our chlidren are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating "for whites only."

We cannot 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.

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

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.

Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, 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.

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."

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 the table of brotherhood.

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

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.

I have a dream today.

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, that one day right down in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exhalted, 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.

This is our hope. This is the faith that I will go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood.

"It is better to die on our feet than live on our knees" read the sign hoisted by teachers from Chicago's Zapata Elementary School, reflecting the diversity of the union teachers and the commitment to public education and against the latest attacks by the plutocracy against democracy and justice. Substance photo by Sharon Schmidt.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, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with new meaning, "My country 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrims' pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring."

And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true. 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 snow-capped Rockies of Colorado. Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California. But not only that; let freedom ring from the Stone Mountain of Georgia. Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee.

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, and when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, 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!"


September 3, 2012 at 1:32 PM

By: Dean Scarpinato

Brizard, Board enemies of public education

The Chicago Teachers Union has voted to exercise its legal right to strike today and CPS will be shutting down Sept. 10 for the first time since 1987. This is not a decision that the House of Delegates and the leadership of the CTU takes lightly. Teachers know we will be reviled and attacked by the very people whom we serve.

The media will launch a full out attack on us. The media will tell you that we want MONEY; that we expect to have a 24% raise in the face of the city's fiscal crisis. THIS IS SIMPLY NOT TRUE!!! The teachers of Chicago are striking FOR OUR STUDENTS. Many teachers have already SPENT thousands of dollars on their students through purchasing classroom supplies. Yes, true.

The problems with CPS are far-reaching and complicated. We are fighting for: libraries, art, music, limits to class size, limit to high-stakes standardized testing, limiting case loads for clinicians and social workers, facilities that have HEAT in the winter and AIR in the summer, and a MORATORIUM on the turning around and privatization of the city's schools. We EXPECT a better system for all our city's students not just those in magnet and selective enrollment schools. Every child in this great country deserves a well funded and enriching education and, guess what.....THIS CITY CAN AFFORD IT.

If Rham and the BOE can afford to "rent" protesters, launch huge media campaigns and find $25 million to FUND 130 SCAB SCHOOLS throughout the city, there is money to HELP children. But it is the misappropriation of priorities of the twisted foundation at 125 Clark Street the binds the hands of the city's educators. Let the sun in and see the truth. The BOE is attacking and privatizing the city's schools at an accelerated rate. Anyone who has ever spoken at a BOE meeting can attest to the recalcitrant nature of those who lead there. The board members, who don't even have their own children at a CPS school and who very rarely set foot in a neighborhood school, are the ones carrying out this mess.

I witnessed this first hand in January as the BOE members slammed the gavel on 19 schools. This happened after hearing testimony (including my own) from 85 citizens: parents, teachers, public officials, students who were there representing THOUSANDS. Sure as I'm writing this, they killed students that day.....

Anyone who knows me knows how passionate I am about my work and my students. Former students who are my Facebook friends, you know I've loved you. Friends and family who know me well, know I will love you 'til you stab me in the heart. I'm appealing to you to understand and support us. I'm not sure when it became Un-American to stand up and fight for what you believe in....

When did Unionism become unpatriotic? I love this country and I'm terrified of this new civil rights issue of privatization of public education....I will fight; I will go down swinging. If you've loved or been inspired by a teacher, please get the word out. This is our most desperate hour.

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