Amos N. Jones

"Think with Me Today"

The seedbed of Martin Luther King Jr.'s, greatest speech.

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With "I Have a Dream," King did what he routinely had done, this time to eternal effect: "In the midst of speaking, King rewrote his speech and created a new national scripture," Sundquist states. (The head of the FBI's Domestic Intelligence Unit concluded that King's "demagogic" speech, because of its power to influence the masses, made him the nation's "most dangerous Negro," even though his more radical voice would not emerge until years after he delivered the speech.) One wonders whether there exists a comparable contemporary context for developing the kind of program that King built from Dexter; so many once-sedate black congregations' newfound embrace of noisy, undignified Sunday services and sermonic material heavy on self-help applications of Scripture has supplanted the refined theological expositions that motivated liberal Protestant listeners to change their country fundamentally, fomenting righteous reverberations that still startle societies to this day.

Amos N. Jones is an Associate at Bryan Cave LLP in Washington, D.C.

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