Even in a historical novel, Martin Luther King's speech is riveting:
He seemed to be drawing his words from a deep, cold well of suffering and pain, a well created by centuries of cruelty. Jasper realized that Negroes described their suffering in the words of the Old Testament prophets, and bore their pain with the consolation of Jesus' gospel of hope.
King's voice shook with the emotion as he said, "I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."
"I have a dream that one day, on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood - I have a dream.
That one day even in the state of Mississippi - a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression - will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice. I have a dream."
He had hit a rhythm, and two hundred thousand people felt it sway their souls. It was more than a speech: it was a poem and a canticle and a prayer as deep as the grave. The heartbreaking phrase "I have a dream" came like an amen at the end of each ringing sentence.
"...That my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character - I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day down in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers - I have a dream today.
With this faith, we will be able to hew, out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope.
With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of one nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood.
With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day."
Looking around, Jasper saw that black and white faces alike were running with tears. Even he felt moved, and he had thought himself immune to this kind of thing.
"And when this happens; when we allow freedom to ring; when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city; we will be able to speed up that day when all God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants an Catholics, will be able to join hands..."
Here he slowed down, and the crowd was almost silent. King's voice trembled with the earthquake force of his passion. "...and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual: free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"
He stepped back from the microphone. The crowd gave a roar such as Jasper has never heard. They rose to their feet in a surge of rapturous hope. The applause rolled on, seeming as endless as the ocean waves.
...Jasper felt as if he had come through a storm, or a battle, or a love affair: he was spent but jubilant.