Remembering the Dream

“Martin should have been born in June,” Rev. Joseph Lowery said, laughing. As the keynote speaker at Thursday’s MLK Commemoration Service at Rockefeller Memorial Chapel, Rev. Lowery spoke to a crowd of a couple hundred people, despite the fact that it was the coldest day so far this winter. Women adorned with fur hats, men dressed in wool coats, and children and students of all ages gathered together to listen to Rev. Lowery speak on behalf of Martin Luther King’s efforts to improve the state of civil rights in the 1960s. The commemoration service began with a procession led by Soul Umoja, the University of Chicago gospel choir. After a welcome speech by President Zimmer, a poetry reading by an eighth grader at one of the UofC’s charter schools, and a reading from Dr. King’s Nobel Prize acceptance speech, Rev. Lowery took the stage. As the co-founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference with Martin Luther King, Rev. Lowery himself has been a champion of social justice throughout American history. So much so, in fact, that Barack Obama invited him to deliver the benediction at Tuesday’s inauguration ceremony. Amens and applause were heard periodically throughout the crowd as Rev. Lowery’s speech tackled topics such as improving poverty levels in the United States and abolishing war and violence as ways to reach peace. Stressing the idea that people must become “chaplains of the common good,” Rev. Lowery advised his audience to move on from charity to love. Charity, he argued, is seasonal and selective, whereas love is forever and inclusive. At the end of Rev. Lowery’s address, the audience immediately rose to their feet and gave him a thunderous round of applause. It was confirmation that they remembered the efforts of Dr. King and would pay heed to Rev. Lowery’s moving words.