In this cleverly argued and extremely effective passage, King makes a humorous reference to a “bad check” marked “insufficient funds” in discussing the “promissory note” signed by the “architects of our republic.”
"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. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the "unalienable Rights" of "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked 'insufficient funds.'"
Later in the speech, King famously referred to the “fierce urgency of Now” and then declared: “Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy.”
So I’m very pleased to honor Martin Luther King Jr. with a “Standing O” Award on Martin Luther King Day (his actual birthday is January 15th) for his unequaled eloquence in one of the greatest and consequential speeches in American history but also for demanding that our nation must keep those solemn promises – of equality and democracy for all citizens -- made by our founders.
Here’s a link to a video of Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream Speech” and I encourage you to watch it in its entirety.
# # #
About Matthew Cossolotto. Creator of “Make A Promise Day” (May 4th), Matthew Cossolotto (aka "The Podium Pro") is an author, guest speaker, CEO-level speechwriter, and speech coach. Former aide to House Speaker Jim Wright and Congressman Leon Panetta, Matthew also served as a CEO-level speechwriter and communications executive at MCI Communications, Pepsi-Cola International, and GTE. Matthew is the founder and president of Study Abroad Alumni International, dedicated to "building a community of global citizens." The author of The Almanac of European Politics, HabitForce!, and All The World's A Podium, he’s working on a new book with a foreword by Jack Canfield about The Power of Making a Promise. Matthew offers his Personal Empowerment Programs -- “PEPTalks”