When I was in grade school we had public speaking competitions starting at an early age. They thought is was an important part of our education, and, given all the speaking I do at Innkeeping conferences these days, something must have rubbed off.
Thanks to my father, who knew great speeches and the effect they have had on history, I was no doubt helped by the selection of great pieces to memorize and, with some coaching, deliver with some effect. I won a couple of those competitions with great speeches by Patrick Henry (“Give me liberty or give me death”) and Winston Churchill (“Blood, sweat, and tears”), and it gave me an appreciation for what inspired oratory can accomplish. Of course, that was in the early 1960’s (I guess I’m dating myself!)
Had the speech been given by the time I was in those competitions, I’m sure that Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” would have been a perfect choice, as it remains one of the greatest, most inspiring pieces of oratory in the English language. In watching the news tonight about Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech in Washington in 1963, I was moved once again, as I am every time, by the power of the oratory.
As a nation we have come a long way. At the recent PAII conference in Charleston, I was talking with Monique Greenwood of Akwaaba Inns and Monica Edwards of Morehead Manor B&B, both African American innkeepers. They remarked, and we concurred, that Innkeeping remains a very Caucasian industry. Unlike the early days of our American history, it’s not because of any overt racism. But it remains a fact. All of us at The B&B Team® hope to see that change one day, even as this wonderful industry continues to evolve with younger innkeepers and ever more diverse innkeeping styles. Change is good.
And because it’s an awesome speech, if you have a few minutes and want to be uplifted, take a look at the original. It never gets old for me!