What does Martin Luther mean by let us not wallow in the valley og despair

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mscw | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Assistant Educator

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The "I Have a Dream" speech, by Martin Luther King Jr, is one of the most famous orations of all time. Its hopeful tone cries out to its audience to pursue King's "dream" of a racially just America which is built on cooperation between all people. King uses figurative language to describe the deplorable injustices suffered by African Americans and his dreams for a bright and just future for all Americans. 

In his statement,

Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends

Martin Luther King Jr implores his audience, who have suffered in their struggles for civil rights to approach their struggles for social and political justice with an enduring spirit of perseverance. To "wallow" in a deep valley of sadness and helplessness at the continuing injustices suffered by protesters and those supporting the cause will dull the mind's capacity to dream the

dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

King's reference to valleys and despair was not lost on the audience he addressed. As a pastor, he would frequently have referred to valleys as places of depression and despair, from which the will and the power of God could save. Two of the most well-known of these Bible passages are Psalm 23 and Ezekiel 37:1-14.

This invitation to his listeners to rise from their despair is followed by the most famous section of the "I Have a Dream" speech, which outlines Martin Luther King's visions of a just society, where former enemies may sit together as brothers, and where all children will have the same rights and freedoms. 

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