There’s an old joke about hell wherein a speechwriter arrives and finds a room of writers typing miserably on computers while facing a deadline. He begs to go to Heaven instead. When he does, the scene is identical. “This is the same,” he remarks. “Not at all,” replies St. Peter. “Up here, we use the stuff.”
Jeff Nussbaum, a senior speechwriter for President Biden, surely knows that struggle. His new book, “Undelivered: The Never Heard Speeches That Would Have Rewritten History,” focusing on history’s most memorable undelivered speeches, is a love letter to all the speechwriters and public figures who toiled on addresses that never saw the light of day — at least, until now. Here are 4 of the most memorable speeches cited in the book:
Martin Luther King Jr. at The March on Washington
Martin Luther King Jr. might be best remembered for movingly declaring “I have a dream” at the March on Washington in 1963. In that iconic speech, he conveyed a message of hope, saying, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”
But the original tenor of the speech, titled “Normalcy No More,” was very different. In the version that was never used, MLK stated:
“I read a newspaper editorial recently which speculated upon when the leaders of this civil rights movement would become ‘satisfied’ so that America could return to normalcy . . . we do not want to return to normalcy . . . It is normalcy with keeps the filibuster alive — that legislative incinerator in which every smoldering hope for racial justice has been converted into ashes. It is normalcy which has been the betrayal of all that we mean when we recite the Oath of Allegiance . . . Every inspired genius who has given something to the world; every people who have ever struck for freedom has rejected the normal and embraced the abnormal.”
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SOURCE: New York Post, Jennifer Wright