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In his "I Have a Dream" speech, King says "You have been the veterans of creative...

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faghagbaby | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted September 5, 2010 at 12:37 PM via web

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In his "I Have a Dream" speech, King says "You have been the veterans of creative suffering." What does that "creative suffering" mean?

I guess maybe the creative means black people are created differently by God. Or, perhaps it means sufferings associated with creative work.

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted September 5, 2010 at 12:43 PM (Answer #1)

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To find the meaning of this phrase, look at the parts of the speech just before this line.  You can see the meaning in the whole paragraph that contains the line.

King clearly does not mean that he thinks that black people are created differently.  He was a man who believed in the equality of all people.

It is closer to say that he is talking about the suffering associated with creative work.  In this paragraph, he talks about how many of the people at the rally had come there from jail cells and such.  So what he is saying is that they have suffered (legally and physically) as they have been trying to create a more just society.  He is acknowledging how they have suffered to try to achieve the goals of their movement.

Here is the rest of the paragraph -- you will see that it supports my interpretation

Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted September 5, 2010 at 10:08 PM (Answer #2)

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The previous thoughts were strong.  The idea of "creative suffering" was meant to indicate that there were many different ways African- Americans suffered in order to achieve their own rights and their own guarantees under the Constitution.  The "creativity" that is suggested is almost sarcastic in how Dr. King is suggesting to what ends in the position of power have gone to maintain and ensure that African- Americans continue to be marginalized.  These means are "creative" when set in the face of a historical and Constitutional legacy that should have been honored much earlier.  I don't feel it is a statement about people of color as much as it is about those in the position of power and their inertia to resist change, to resist the sense of moral right that Dr. King is seeking to invoke in his speech.

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dbello | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted September 6, 2010 at 2:19 PM (Answer #3)

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Dr. King's 'I Have a Dream' speech is one of the finest American speeches ever delivered because  the words of Dr. King's speech are spoken from the wrenches of the promise of the American soul. When King spoke 'You have been the veterans of creative suffering' make no mistake he was referring to the plight of the African Americans' reality. This line in Dr. King's speech gave recognition to those who were suffering under the then present state of affairs while simultaneously forcing others to see the error of certain segments of society by raising awareness to the overall suffering of a group of American citizens.

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faghagbaby | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted September 10, 2010 at 4:30 PM (Answer #4)

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Thank you for your kind help. I chose one as the best answer for I think "creative" is sarcastic. It's a little hard for me to understand some certain words in a text. But now I understand the "creative" much more better.

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