MARTIN LUTHER KING Jr.’s famous “I have a dream” speech way back in 1963 was a tipping point in American race relations. In less than twenty minutes, he set the stage for the civil rights movement for the next fifty years and inspired generations of Americans, black and white, to work together to try to make the issue of color a thing of the past.

This was an especially daunting challenge at a time when segregation was still alive and well, and the notion of racial equality was still, in many parts of the country, almost unthinkable.

Martin Luther King Jr. succeeded that day not just because he was a gifted orator with a special talent for impassioned rhetorical theater, and not just because he understood the needs ...

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