2003 — Series XIII
I Have a Dream: Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Future of Multicultural America
James Forbes Jr., Robert Franklin, Jr., Dwight Hopkins, Justo González, Peter Paris, and Emilie Townes, lecturers
On August 28, 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered the keynote address for the March on Washington. This brief speech was an historic event, witnessed by an extraordinary assembly and revealing to an entire nation — and many more around the world — just how high the stakes were in the Civil Rights struggle. Perhaps even more significant has been this speech's enduring accomplishment in reshaping both political discourse and the church's self-understanding. For forty years no leader has been able to talk about life together as either the body politic or the body of Christ without somehow echoing or otherwise engaging King's dream.
This speech keeps on ringing. Which makes vital the questions of what Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy means in our time — simultaneously strikingly different and all too similar to 1963. What then shall we say? What dreams shall we dream? How then shall we live?
The 2002-2003 Hein-Fry Lecture Series addressed these crucial questions in a special format. The number of distinguished guest lecturers was expanded from the customary two to six. Moreover, instead of hosting a single lecturer, each ELCA seminary welcomed two speakers and had the opportunity to add a third lecturer, panel, or other event. Finally, a special ninth event was planned in Atlanta, the city most deeply associated with King's life and legacy.
In these ways the Hein-Fry Lecture Committee hopes to occasion a rich, broad, and intense engagement with major questions about the future of multicultural America, sparking renewed faithful vision and action.