The “I Have a Dream” speech by Dr. Luther King, Jr. was delivered during the 1963 advance Washington for Jobs and Freedom. He gave the speech at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.; this speech expresses King’s notorious hope for America and therefore the need for change. He opens the speech by stating how happy he’s to be with the marchers, and emphasizes the historical significance of their march by calling it “the greatest demonstration for freedom within the history of our nation.” He talks about Lincoln signing the Emancipation Proclamation 100 years before the march. He calls that proclamation “joyous daybreak to finish the long night of their captivity,” where “their” refers to those that were enslaved. King then involves the issues faced by African Americans in 1963, saying that 100 years later, they still aren’t free. Instead, they’re “sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and therefore the chains of discrimination.” He also discusses the poverty endured by black Americans. King talks about when the founders of the state (“the architects of our republic”) wrote the Constitution and therefore the Declaration of Independence. He says they were writing a note to each American, that each one man was guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty and therefore the pursuit of happiness, which included black men also as white. He states that America defaulted thereon check where black citizens are concerned about denying them those rights. “America has given the Negro people a nasty check, a check which has come marked insufficient funds,” he says.
King then adopts a more hopeful tone by adding that the “bank of justice” isn’t bankrupt. He also states that there’s urgency within their cause: “This is not any time to interact in the luxury of cooling off or to require the tranquilizing drug of gradualism.” He uses the seasons as a metaphor to explain this urgency by saying that the legitimate discontent of African Americans may be a “sweltering summer,” which freedom and equality are going to be “invigorating autumn.” He also promises that this protest isn’t a departure. It’s not about voicing grievances then going back to the status quo: “The whirlwinds of revolt will still shake the foundations of our nation until the brilliant day of justice emerges,” he states. King then cautions his people to not commit any wrongful deeds. He says, “Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.” this is often a crucially important sentiment, as King’s leadership was defined by direct action, not violence. He proved that real legal change might be made without resorting to violence. Though there was much violence during the Civil Rights movement, he was always for peace, and urged others to protest peacefully, what he calls in his speech “the high plane of dignity and discipline.” He also stresses the importance of recognizing the White race who wants to protest for this same cause—those allies that are necessary to its success. King provides some specific goals. He says they can’t stop marching goodbye as they suffer police brutality, goodbye as they’re turned faraway from hotels, goodbye as they’re confined to ghettos, goodbye as they’re subject to segregation, then long as they are doing not have the proper to vote. He then recognizes the struggles that a lot of the marchers have already endured, and asks them to undertake that struggle again and to possess the hope that their situation can and can change.
Then comes the foremost famous a part of this speech, that it’s titled. King says his dream is “deeply rooted within the American Dream .” This reinforces the protestors’ rights to equality in America. He says he dreams that “the sons of former slaves and therefore the sons of former slave owners are going to be ready to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.” This emphasizes the necessity for black and white Americans to figure together. Central to the message of this speech, and therefore the Civil Rights movement more generally, is that this line: “I have a dream that my four little kids will at some point sleep in a nation where they’re going to not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” He talks about the importance of religion, which “all flesh shall see [the glory of the Lord] together.” That faith, he says, will help them within the struggles they’ve faced, the struggles they still face, and people struggle yet to return as they peacefully fight for liberty and equality. King then uses a line from the song, “My Country ‘Tis of Thee”: “This is going to be the day, this may be the day when all of God’s children are going to be ready to sing with new meaning: ‘My country, ‘tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. A land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring!’” Only by realizing this as truth, King says, can America become an excellent nation. He begins the subsequent section by mentioning mountainsides throughout the country, repeating “Let freedom ring.” King closes the speech with another iconic line: “When all of God’s children, black men, and white men, Jews, and Gentiles, Protestants, and Catholics, are going to be ready to join hands and sing the words of the old Negro spiritual: ‘Free at last! Free at last! Thank Godhead, we are free at last!’”
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