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Martin Luther King, Jr.
Credit: Courtesy of Simon & Schuster

More than a Dream speech. Challenging status quo thinking about MLK

NPR’s Sam Sanders tweeted something this week. He wrote: “Let’s just do Black History Month in March, cuz February is honestly gonna be a wash I think.”

Given the recent political controversy over black face and KKK-costumed year book photos, the sentiment is understandable. But it is Black History Month, and Professor Michael Eric Dyson magnifies the significance of that fact like no other.

No speech can serve as an antidote to the realities of racism-- not Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” address and not this one. But both strike at the heart of the problem. Dyson’s is full of insight, fury and pointed humor. In calling out acceptance of the status quo and the tendency to freeze MLK’s message in scope and time, it strikes a unique chord.

Dyson gave this keynote address at Seattle College’s 46th annual Celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr. at Mount Zion Baptist Church on January 18. KUOW’s Sonya Harris recorded the event. Perhaps as a nod to former President Barack Obama, who said “Everybody who speaks after Michael Eric Dyson pales in comparison,” the organizers had Dyson speak last.

Michael Eric Dyson is a Georgetown University sociology professor, a New York Times contributing opinion writer and a contributing editor of The New Republic. His latest book is “What Truth Sounds Like: Robert F. Kennedy, James Baldwin, and Our Unfinished Conversation About Race in America.”

Listen to the full event below: