On August 28, 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, overlooking a sea of people, and delivered words that have reverberated through time: “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.’”
Dr. King devoted his life to the ideals of equality, justice, peace, and human rights. His life continues to inspire people and institutions around the world.
To mark the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, I want to share some excerpts of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s speech in 2008 when he viewed the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. collection:
“Over the years, my admiration for Dr. King has grown even more profound, as I have grown older, the world more complex, and the rights he so valiantly fought for more acutely important than ever around the world.”
“Dr. King and [United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs] Bunche struggled together for the ideals they shared. Ralph Bunche was there at the Great March on Washington. He was at Dr. King’s side leading the procession from Selma to Montgomery. It was 1965, and Mr. Bunche told the crowd that the United Nations was with them. He said, and I quote: ‘In the UN, we have known from the beginning that secure foundations for peace in the world can be built only upon the principle and practice of equal rights and status for all peoples, respect and dignity for all.’
“These words capture the conviction underlying the Universal Declaration of Human Rights … They are the tenets of the United Nations. And they are the tenets that Dr. King lived and died for. It is often those who most need their human rights protected, who also need to be informed that the Declaration exists — and that it exists for them.”
“I will leave here forever impressed by Dr. King’s courage. He could see the bridge between the terrible injustices in our world and the noble rightness that humanity can achieve. He spent his life building that bridge and marching across it, from despair to hope, from suffering to salvation, from war to peace and from hate to love.
“As the United Nations strives to tackle the problems raging our world and to realize the principles in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we carry in our hearts Dr. King’s unending courage and his unbending conviction.”