Free at last! The power of words drives MLK’s legacy

DALLAS -- There's a reason we've been told the pen is mightier than the sword, and one man understood that better than maybe, anyone.

That man was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

His words are his legacy, and his legacy was celebrated Monday with his birthday and his national holiday. Thousands, including our own personalities here at CW33, were on MLK Boulevard in Dallas in the parade that recognized the man who had a dream, the man who let freedom ring, and the man who knew the time is always right to do what is right.

But we wondered what words from Dr. King stick with you.

What we found was a thread of inspiration weaved through the fabric of our people, quotes that have propped up a nation for more than 50 years.

"I have a dream!" the familiar refrain from his August, 1963, speech, was the most popular call to the people, but it wasn't the only one. In fact, it wasn't even the only one from that speech.

"We are judged by the content of our character and not the color of our skin," one woman said, paraphrasing the famous quote that she hopes her grandson Jordan will mold his life around. He does, after all, share MLK's birthday and have the middle name "King."

Dallas pastor Clarence Glover feels the "I have a dream" refrain is actually missing the point of the August, 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom speech.

"Let freedom ring! Let freedom ring from the height of the Alleghenies, let freedom ring throughout the nation," Glover said, quoting a different part of the speech. "So many people today are still dreaming instead of letting freedom ring."

Not everyone pulled from King's speech in Washington, D.C.

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness. Only light can do that," one woman said, quoting a refrain often heard in Dr. King's sermons. "Hate cannot drive out hate. Only love can do that."

Will Sennette, a member of Kappa Alpha Psi, Inc., went a different direction, recognizing what kind of men he and the young men he and his brothers mentor need to aspire to be.

"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience but where he stands in times of times of challenge and controversy," he said, quoting a 1958 King sermon titled, "What is a Man?"

And let's remember, Dr. King wasn't always in the business of offering support and love.

"America has written us a check, and it's come back marked 'insufficient funds,'" Creole storyteller Afiah Bey told NewsFix, paraphrasing another moment of the August, 1963 March on Washington speech.

But for everyone, there's always a measure of hope included.

For one group of women, it wasn't a King quote at all that meant something to them. It's part of an African spiritual that King used to give the people hope in August, 1963.

"Free at last, free at last, thank God almighty we are free at last!"