Friday 23 August 2013, 12:32
It is 50 years since Martin Luther King’s March on Washington, where he gave his “I have a dream” speech from the Lincoln Memorial on the National Mall. This weekend the anniversary is marked with a re-enactment rally; part commemoration, part celebration. I will be broadcasting from Washington from 1am on Saturday morning and 1am Sunday morning.
For we who grew up in the 1960s, Martin Luther King's "dream" is more than a question on an A-Level humanities paper. It is a living, breathing testament. The antithesis to Enoch Powell's "rivers of blood". Even for an eight-year-old in Tottenham who didn't know the meaning of "racial discrimination", the one was infinitely more desirable than the other.
In 1968, King's speech echoed in the racially intense cauldron that Powell and his speech stoked up that April. In London, N17, little black boys/girls and little white boys/girls had been going to school hand-in-hand, long before it was even a pipe dream of a civil rights leader stateside. Now, suddenly, we were also clinging to King's dream. A dream of a nation where his children would "not be judged by the colour of their skin, but by the content of their character".
A few months after Powell's speech Martin Luther King was dead. Assassinated at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. That grainy footage from the Lincoln Memorial in 1963 that the TV news bulletins played over and over again kept the dream alive for me. A 'dream' I have passed on to my children. It's a speech that has moved me to tears more than once. And now, to go to the scene of that historical moment on its 50th anniversary for BBC 5 live will be an emotional journey for me.
A quarter of a million people marched on Washington on 28 August 1963 in a political rally for civil and economic rights for African-Americans. I'll be speaking to some of them, and asking what the dream means, half a century later, with the first black President in power. To what extent has it become a reality? Who has been left behind and why? I will be thinking of 1963 and that grainy footage but I will also thinking of that long hot summer of 1968, and that eight-year-old dreamer in Tottenham.
You can listen to Dotun Adebayo present Up All Night live from Washington on Saturday 24th and Sunday 25th from 1am - 5am.
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Friday 16 August 2013, 16:04
Saturday 24 August 2013, 10:28