July 5, 2020
Dear people gathered here today, coucilwoman and artists.
I thank Airco Caravan for the invitation to speak here today at the dedication of this statue.
I worked for dr. King from 1965-1969 as assistant dicertor of Public Relations. I was responsible for taping Dr. King's speeches and sermons and special events and sent the information to radio, tv and newspapers.
I knew Dr. King as my employer, my minister, my friend.
He meant everything to me and still does.
I sometimes ate in the kitchen with him and Mrs. King.
Once, I blurted out “I don’t feel worthy to sit at your table.”
He looked at me and frowned,
“Now Harcourt, you make it necessary for me to make a long sermon about how people are equal.”
We are standing apart today, because of corona.,
but we are together.
Together - because - “We Have a Dream.”
On August 28th 1963, on the Lincoln Memorial,
Mahalia Jackson, that great lady of gospel
was listening to Dr. King preach.
She yelled out,
“Tell ‘em about the dream, Martin,”
“tell ‘em about the dream.”
And so he did
and the words were heard around the world.
‘I have a dream deeply rooted in the American Dream.”
With the words of the Declaration of Independence,
Dr. King challenged Americans
to live out the true meaning
of the AMERICAN Dream.
“We hold these truths to be self evident
that all men are created equal.”
These words are echoed in the first article of the Dutch Constitution.
"All persons in the Netherlands shall be treated equally in equal circumstances. Discrimination on the grounds of religion, belief, political opinion, race or sex or on any other grounds whatsoever shall not be permitted."
As we just heard it is not just an American dream.
It is my dream, it is your dream
and the dream of people everywhere.
Young and old,
Black, white, Brown, Asian –
LGBTQ - all who marched nonviolently in Atlanta and Chicago and New York and Minneapolis and Honolulu
and all over the USA
All who gathered
on the Dam and the Malieveld
and Trafalgar Square and the Champs Elyse
and at the Brandenburg Gate
and Capetown and Johannesburg
and Sydney Australia and Auckland, New Zealand.
All who followed Gandhi and marched with Dr. King in Selma
and protested in Montgomery and Birmingham
and died in Mississippi.
All who stood with Mandela
on his long walk to Freedom.
We’re together today with Dr. Martin Luther King
who never stopped walking.
We’re together with George Floyd and
all whose breath –
the very force of life was taken from them
because they were born Black.
We’re together with people
made refugees by war,
forced to flee on flimsy smuggler’s boats
plying the merciless Mediterranean Sea.
We’re together minors from Africa
running from hunger and desperate poverty and left in unsafe overcrowded refuge camps.
We’re together with women enslaved and mutilated in places where the lives of women mean - nothing.
And we are together with all the women, men here in the Netherlands who are denied work because of the color of their skin or the names they carry.
I’m wearing Black
because I’m in mourning for them.
The memory of the protests, the marches,
the deaths, the brutality
challenges each of us as we stand apart – Together.
It asks us:
What will we do :
What will we do when we hear a racial or religious slur?
“De Negers, de Moslems, de Joden!”
What will you do when someone says
“Zwarte Piet “ heeft er niets mee te maken, met slavernij!”
And what about the history of the West India Huis
and the lucrative trade in Slaves
Dr. King said,
“There comes a time when one must take a position
that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular,
but he must take it because conscience tells him
it is right.”
Earlier this week, conscience told the City Council of Amsterdam
“it is right.” The statue of Dr. King by Airco Caravan,
that was secretly placed here when the Council refused,
can now stand here legally
to challenge and inspire all who pass by.
“Conscience told them, it is right.”
As we dedicate this memorial,
we commit ourselves to the Dream of Dr. King
and to every man, woman and child
who speaks out and marches and protests
for what “conscience tells them is right.”
Listen to the Dream!
Vote the Dream!
Place statues of Dr. King at Dr. Martin Luther King parks, schools!
Live this Dream each and every day!
We cannot all the a Dr. Martin Luther King, but we all can be a Rosa Parks, whose conscience told her it was enough and she refused to move from her seat in the bus in 1955.
The Dream of Dr. Martin Luther King makes us walk together, eat together, struggle nonviolently together,
so that one day“ justice will roll down like water
and righteousness like a mighty stream.”