But what was once the gold standard in modern oratory was completely surpassed last year by the only man capable of picking up Dr. King's torch: Glenn Beck. On the anniversary of the "Dream" speech in 2010, Beck delivered the speech that we should be remembering today, and on every successive Glenn Beck Day.
For one thing, King's "I Have a Dream" was a paltry 17 minutes, while Beck, equipped with a boom-mounted microphone that King would've killed for, spoke for over an hour. Moreover, his speech was seasoned with the occasional joke. That's why just about every American today can quote entire passages of Beck's speech, unlike King's tired rambling. If you still can't pick up what we're putting down, take a look at these excerpts from the two men's speeches and see for yourself which ones our nation should celebrate and remember every year.
King: "When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir....It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned."
Beck: "George Washington. He was a general. He fought and fought and fought and fought. And when it was falling apart, when they needed the Constitution, they came riding to his front door. And they knocked on his door. And he answered it."
King: "Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering justice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of captivity. But 100 years later, we must face the tragic fact that the Negro is still not free."
Beck: "If I may share with you the Gettysburg Address: [Quotes the Gettysburg Address]."
King: "This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling-off, or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to open the doors of opportunity to all of God's children. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood."
Beck: "Imagine if you were in bondage in ancient Egypt, and you were crying out to the Almighty, 'Send us, send us someone to free us!' And a man shows up with a stick. Don't you think they said, 'You gotta be kidding me'?....But look what that stick and what that man did."
King: "I have a dream that, one day, every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low. The rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together."
Beck: "We must advance or perish. I choose 'advance.'"See what we mean? We know whose speech we'll be listening to 5,000 times today.