I got to work with the principal reciting the speech, taking it home and studying it, working on it. I listened to Dr. King's recitation, his wonderful oratory, and knew I couldn't compare. To be truthful, I didn't have a complete understanding of the words at that time, even though Dr. King was already a part of our studies at such an early age. Driving home tonight, I heard on NPR a clergyman saying we need to be mindful of Dr. King's teachings, reciting in what I thought was the cadence of a black Baptist preacher, to find he was a white Catholic priest from Chicago. I think back and realize that Dr. King is probably more significant to Catholics than people think. At any rate, I learned to say them as best as I could, and sure enough, recited them on the PA system on Martin Luther King, Jr. day (mind you, this wasn't yet a holiday, and we were in school.)
That was a significant event in my life, perhaps not for the right reasons. It was my first time doing something special and unique, and the first time I was recognized for a talent that I had. Every public speaking apperance, every play, choir event, class presentation, conference presentation, committee meeting, whatever, comes from the strength and attention to "I Have a Dream" when I was 7 years old. As a white guy, I don't know if that's a realization of King's legacy, but as I got older and understood the impact of the man, the depth of his teachings (go read yesthattom's journal for more of what King says on social and economic justice, which were ideas that for him were inseparable from racial justice), I have always felt a special connection to his words because of my experience with them at such a young age.