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On August 28th, 1963, Martin Luther King Jr.

gave his most that they could get arrested without reason. However, his words wrote to the magazine to reveal their thoughts about his death
influential speech, “I Have a Dream”, in Washington DC. Martin were also against people who disagreed with him. King knew how and expressed how King’s speech influenced them. Meanwhile,
Luther King Jr., who born in Atlanta, Georgia, started his non- dangerous the situation was, but he believed without all the Duke University students had organized a protest that became
violent protest for African Americans’ rights and equality in the protests and speeches, African Americans would never gain their known as the “Silent Vigil.” On April 5, about 450 students
late 1950’s. In 1963, thousands of people gathered from many equality. Under loads of pressure, King had a successful speech in marched to the university president’s home in the Duke Forest
states to Washington DC to join the march and specially to listen to Washington and it influenced people from all over neighborhood. They presented four demands which included
King’s speech. The speech took place on the Lincoln Memorial. The America.People from all over the states came to Washington to raising the minimum wage and asking for racial equality and
reason for this was to honor Lincoln’s idea to abolish slavery. His hear King’s speech. These groups included white people and black freedom. Although Martin Luther King Jr. died, his spirit still existed
speech included the words from the Bible, the Constitution, Lincoln, people. Everyone had different purposes for coming to in people’s hearts. Fifty years later, the spirit of King lives on. The
and the National Anthem. He applied some early promises that Washington, but mostly people came to Washington to hear King young generation that lives in the 21st century is a reflection of
did not come true, the injustices of American society, and his vision preach, to tell them what they should do and to find a leader King’s speech. The dream came true, black boys and girls study
for a renewed nation. By repeating the phrase “I have a dream...” through these harsh times. As a result, King balanced his views of with white boys and girls. Black boys and girls play with white
he expressed the desires of all African American people and the the nation and the solution of the severe racial problems. In the boys and girls. “Black” and “White” are just observations of skin
demand for civil rights movements. His speech helped African speech, he said “we've come to cash this check, a check that will color, they are no longer indicate a person’s quality or personality.
Americans achieve more genuine progress toward racial equality give ns upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of The younger generation is carrying King’s spirit and preserving the
in America than the previous 350 years had produced; it was truly justice.” This line points out people’s desire to obtain their freedom dream from fifty years ago.
the turning point of history and the turning point for African and justice back and also started his illustration of what people
American lives. should do in order to achieve their goals. Later in the speech he Ultimately, African Americans had a great influence throughout
said, “'There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the America history. In 1619, the first slave was traveling from Africa
Growing up a Christian and influenced by Mahatma Gandhi, King Negro granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will to America through the triangular trade. Two hundred years later,
believed that the power of words was humongous. In 1955, King continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright days Abraham Lincoln drafted the Emancipation Proclamation to free
enlisted to serve as a spokesman for the Montgomery Bus Boycott of justice emerge.” This line reveals the reality that without solving the slaves which caused the Civil War. One hundred years later,
in Montgomery, Alabama. Down there, by using the power of the equality problems of African Americans, the country could not Martin Luther King gave a speech about the equality of African
words, he prompted the U.S. Supreme Court to rule that racial return to business and they would not have peaceful times. At the Americans on Lincoln’s memorial which changed African Americans’
segregation in transportation was unconstitutional. His first victory end of the speech, he went off of his script and started preaching. lives. The speech not only fortified their confidence to fight for
gave him the confidence of using words instead of fists. In 1957, By using parallelism which started with, “I have a dream...” it their rights, but also persuaded many white people to join the
he was then elected president of the Southern Christian Leadership pumped people’s hearts and fortified their beliefs that one day fight. Fifty years later, people benefit from the peaceful
Conference which was an organization that provided the the nation would become a fair-minded one and that there would relationships between black and white people. King’s speech
leadership for the civil rights movements. This position gave him a no longer be racial problems. The end of the speech also influenced not only his generation but also the younger generation.
lot more power and influence which gave him more courage to do strengthened people’s thoughts about fighting for this peace. The “Although King’s speech seems long time ago, but I think it
what he believed. In early 1963, King grouped up with other civil speech had a great impact on the audience and had a big influenced me. It changed the way people think about the African
rights groups to solve the problems in the most segregated city of influence in politics. After the speech, many people started American, and it helped creating more and more opportunity for
Birmingham, Alabama. During that time, he also drafted the questioning the government about why there were injustices and African American. It gave me a better life,” African American
“Letter from a Birmingham Jail” which described society’s inquired about how would they fix the problem. The problems student Emmaneul Bajjabayira said. In the meantime, the non-
inequality and the urgency of solving this situation. Later that year, caused by the speech may have led King himself to big trouble. violent movement was adopted in many countries. Speeches and
King and other civil rights groups started the march for jobs and protests are the most popular movements to share thoughts. King’s
freedom known as “March on Washington.” And this is when he In 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated by James Earl “I have a dream” speech changed the way of people view African
gave his most famous speech “I Have a Dream”. However, before Ray. The greatest civil rights leader of all time left the world. Americans, it helped leaving King’s legacy and it impacted a new
the march, King triggered people to think about the injustices of Although people felt sad about his death, the assassination generation.
society by publishing his writing in newspapers. His words depicted stimulated their desire to inherit King’s legacy. Right after his
the situation that African Americans could not find good jobs and assassination, for instance, TIME readers from all over America
I Have a Dream Martin Luther King

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down ” But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice
in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are
in the history of our nation. insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity
of this nation. And so we have come to cash this
check, a check that will give us upon demand the
riches of freedom and the security of justice.
Five score years ago, a great American, in whose
symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the
Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came
as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind
slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time
injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the
long night of their captivity. tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to
make real the promises of democracy; now is the time
to rise from the dark and desolate valley of
segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice; now
But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not
is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of
free; one hundred years later, the life of the Negro
racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood; now
is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation
is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’
and the chains of discrimination; one hundred years
s children. It would be fatal for the nation to
later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty
overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering
in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity;
summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not
one hundred years later, the Negro is still languished
pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom
in the corners of American society and finds himself
and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but
in exile in his own land.
a beginning. And those who hope that the Negro needed
to blow off steam and will now be content, will have a
rude awakening if the nation returns to business as
So we’ve come here today to dramatize a shameful usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in
condition. In a sense we’ve come to our nation’s America until the Negro is granted his citizenship
capital to cash a check. When the architects of our rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to
republic wrote the magnificent words of the shake the foundations of our nation until the bright
Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they day of justice emerges.
were signing a promissory note to which every American
was to fall heir. This note was the promise that all
men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be
But there is something that I must say to my people,
guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty,
who stand on the worn threshold which leads into the
and the pursuit of happiness.
palace of justice. In the process of gaining our
rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful
deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for
It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and
promissory note in so far as her citizens of color are hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the
concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not
America has given the Negro people a bad check, a allow our creative protests to degenerate into
physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the
check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.
majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul
force. The marvelous new militancy, which has engulfed rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed, “
the Negro community, must not lead us to a distrust of We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men
all white people. For many of our white brothers, as are created equal.” I have a dream that one day on
evidenced by their presence here today, have come to the red hills of Georgia, sons of former slaves and
realize that their destiny is tied up with our the sons of former slaveowners will be able to sit
destiny. And they have come to realize that their down together at the table of brotherhood. I have a
freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a
cannot walk alone. And as we walk, we must make the state sweltering with the heat of injustice,
pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be
turn back. transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice. 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
There are those who are asking the devotees of Civil
character.
Rights, “When will you be satisfied?” We can never
be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the
unspeakable horrors of police brutality; we can never
be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the I HAVE A DREAM TODAY!
fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels
of the highways and the hotels of the cities; we
cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro’s basic
mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one; we I have a dream that one day down in Alabama — with its
can never be satisfied as long as our children are vicious racists, with its Governor having his lips
stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity dripping with the words of interposition and
by signs stating “For Whites Only”; we cannot be nullification — one day right there in Alabama, little
satisfied as long as the Negro in Mississippi cannot black boys and black girls will be able to join hands
vote, and the Negro in New York believes he has with little white boys and white girls as sisters and
nothing for which to vote. No! no, we are not brothers.
satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until “
justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like
a mighty stream.” I HAVE A DREAM TODAY!

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out I have a dream that one day every valley shall be
of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made
come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have low. The rough places will be plain and the crooked
come from areas where your quest for freedom left you
places will be made straight, “and the glory of the
battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by
Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it
the winds of police brutality. You have been the
together.”
veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with
the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive. Go
back to Mississippi. Go back to Alabama. Go back to
South Carolina. Go back to Georgia. Go back to This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to
Louisiana. Go back to the slums and ghettos of our the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew
Northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With
can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the this faith we will be able to transform the jangling
valley of despair. discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of
brother-hood. 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,
I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face
knowing that we will be free one day. And this will
the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a
be the day. This will be the day when all of God’s
dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American
children will be able to sing with new meaning, “My
dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will
country ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee
I sing. Land where my father died, land of the pilgrim
’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.
” And if America is to be a great nation, this must
become true.

So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of


New Hampshire; let freedom ring from the mighty
mountains of New York; let freedom ring from the
heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania; let freedom
ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado; let
freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California.
But not only that. Let freedom ring from Stone
Mountain of Georgia; let freedom ring from Lookout
Mountain of Tennessee; let freedom ring from every
hill and mole hill of Mississippi. “From every
mountainside, let freedom ring.”

And when this happens, and 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 of God’s children,
black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles,
Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands
and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual: “
Free at last. Free at last. Thank God Almighty, we are
free at last.”

Source: Martin Luther King, Jr., I Have A Dream:


Writings and Speeches that Changed the World, ed.
James Melvin Washington (San Francisco: Harper, 1986),
102-106.

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