CIVIL rights activist Martin Luther King Jr was one of the most influential figures of the 20th century.
The Baptist minister who became the most prominent spokesperson for the civil rights movement in the US was assassinated in Memphis at the age of 39 on April, 4 1968. We take a close look at his famous I Have a Dream speech.
When did King give the I Have a Dream speech?
King delivered one of the most famous speeches of the 20th century from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC on August 28, 1963.
The speech was part of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom and called for the end of racism in the US as well as civil and economic rights.
The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom was partly intended to demonstrate mass support for the civil rights legislation proposed by President Kennedy in June.
It was delivered in front of an estimated crowd of 250,000 and became one of the key moments in the civil rights movement.
The I Have a Dream Speech
The address wasn’t the first time King had spoken about having a dream and he is believed to have first talked about having a dream in a speech in 1960 to the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP) called "The Negro and the American Dream".
A number of other speeches also reference his dream in the following years.
The March on Washington speech had several versions, written at different times and there is no one single draft but an amalgamation of several and was originally called Normalcy, Never Again.
During the actual speech, the gospel singer Mahalia Jackson shouted from the crowd: “Tell them about the dream, Martin.”
King departed from his prepared speech and improvised, punctuating his points with “I have a dream”.
In this, the most famous part of his speech, King described his dream of freedom and equality arising from the land of slavery and hatred.
King’s most famous quotes from the speech
"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin, but by the content of their character. I have a dream today.”
"Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice."
"I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed – we hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal."
"Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred."
“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!"
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