On the morning of April 3rd 1968, a young preacher from Atlanta prepares for a journey to Memphis, Tennessee to join striking sanitation workers. During the night he has experienced a recurring dream – one that is a disconcerting mix of reminiscence and premonition. Always, at the center of the dream, is the image of a balcony that has about it a strange sense of foreboding, and destiny, and a moment he knows he is not yet ready to face, but cannot yet explain, or see beyond…
As he sets out on his journey, boarding a flight from Atlanta’s busy airport, he begins to reflect on episodes of his life, searching for meaning to his dreams. First, he remembers the harsh personal experience of racism and segregation in the community of his childhood, his dear maternal Grandmother, and the promise he made to her at her deathbed that set his life upon its present course – his promise to love. Later on his journey his thoughts return to Boston University, the place he first articulated his unsophisticated ‘love answer’ to the persecution and injustice he perceived in the world. It was also where he met the woman who would become his wife, and would set out with him on a life adventure that took them to Montgomery, Alabama where, together, they would play a vital role in the 1955 bus boycott that changed the law.
He preached the practical application of ‘love’ to America’s social issues, and challenged the status quo, alongside other leaders of the incredible freedom revolution of which he was crowned king. Side by side they marched, facing stern opposition and winning political success at a national level in Washington DC, though most victories were hard-won on streets, and in jail cells throughout the South. There were significant times when he was celebrated and vilified, struggles around him, war within him, and loneliness and despair along the way from Birmingham to Selma where, in 1965, the brave stand he inspired the people to take led to the enactment of voting rights legislation that changed the course of modern American history. He remembers this kaleidoscope of events as he arrives in Memphis, most poignantly on the morning after he makes, perhaps, the most emotionally draining speech of his life.
Finally, just thirty-six hours after he set out from home, he sits alone at the edge of his bed in a motel room – late in the afternoon of April 4th. He knows that outside his room door waits the balcony of his recurring dreams. Dream has become reality and the moment of dream images is now the moment at hand. Before he steps onto that balcony, as he knows he soon must do, he wrestles to complete the self-reconciliation of his life. Has the frail, imperfect human he knows he is, not the icon, the idol, even the god the world has made him to be, done his best, done all he could? Did he live life to the fullest measure? Though he has said he is not afraid, is he ready to die? And beyond himself, have the people been sufficiently envisioned and empowered to pursue the dream he has preached to them? A dream of a mighty unstoppable freedom wave that will wash away all injustice, sorrow, tears and pain.