I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.
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 slaves, who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.
But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. And so we've come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.
a sense we have come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the
architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and
the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which
every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes,
black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of
life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It is obvious today that
But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are 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.
have also come to this hallowed spot to remind
would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This
sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until
there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three
is not an end but a beginning. 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 usual. There will be neither rest nor
But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the 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 freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must ever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.
The marvellous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.
as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot
turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil 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 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 a Negro in
I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecutions and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the 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 Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends. And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.
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.
I have a dream
that one day on the red hills of
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be 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 character. I have a dream today!
I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right down in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers. I have a dream today!
I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.
is our hope. This is the faith that I will go back to the South with. With this
faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope.
With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our
nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. 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, knowing that we will be free one
day. And this will be the day, this will be the day
when all of God's children will be able to sing with new meaning, "My
country 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land
where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrim's pride, from every mountainside,
let freedom ring!" And if
so let freedom ring -- from the prodigious hilltops of
Let freedom ring -- from the mighty mountains of
Let freedom ring -- from the heightening Alleghenies of
Let freedom ring -- from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado.
Let freedom ring -- from the curvaceous slopes of
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 molehill of
from every mountainside, let freedom ring!
And when this happens, 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."
English 10-2: Speech Writing: Comprehension Worksheet
Martin Luther King, "I Have a Dream"
Please answer the following questions in COMPLETE sentences.
1. To whom is Martin Luther King speaking? What are the people listening to him trying to accomplish? What social problem are they trying to eradicate?
2. What is the "American Dream"?
3. What is King's dream?
4. What sort of freedom is King speaking about?
5. Analyze some of the stylistic or rhetorical devices that King uses when he delivers his speech in order to give his words more power. Provide some examples for each.
Answer the following question in PARAGRAPH form (minimum 5 sentences):
1. What is your dream? What is most important to you, and how could you accomplish it? What stands in your way? Are there other people who share your dream? Can you make your dream come true?