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article imageOp-Ed: Martin Luther King’s ‘I have a dream’ speech, 50 years later

By Igor I. Solar     Aug 23, 2013 in Politics
Washington - Fifty year ago Martin Luther King, Jr. stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., in front of about 250,000 people, and delivered a fervent address regarded as one of the finest speeches in the history of American oratory.
King’s discourse, which came to be known as the "I Have a Dream" speech, was delivered by the clergyman, activist, and leader of the African-American Civil Rights Movement on August 28, 1963. Martin Luther King, Jr. was one of several speakers at the massive civil rights demonstration called the “March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.” In his speech, delivered from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, King applied the rhetorical skills he had mastered as a Baptist preacher to emphasize his call for an end to racism and his demand for further rights for blacks in the United States.
The famous speech only lasted 17 minutes, and according to sources, Martin Luther King prepared a draft only a few hours before he was to stand in front of over 200,000 people in what he called “the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.” The words “I have a dream” were not included in the draft, but after referring briefly to the Emancipation Proclamation and “the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence,” he went on to improvise on the theme of his dreams of freedom, justice and equality:
Crowds surrounding the Reflecting Pool  during the 1963 March on Washington.
Crowds surrounding the Reflecting Pool, during the 1963 March on Washington.
Warren K. Leffler
“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 Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.
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!”
Although the “I have a dream” segment was what most stimulated the audience, the whole speech became famous and has remained in the minds of black and white Americans and people around the world who believe in racial harmony and the equality of humankind. M.L. King’s speech has been hailed as a masterpiece of rhetoric. It’s at the top of the list of the 100 best political speeches of the 20th century.
Largely as a result of MLK’s lifelong struggle and non-violent resistance against racial prejudice, the Civil Rights Acts, outlawing discrimination against women and minorities was enacted in 1964. Moreover, the Civil Rights Act of 1968, providing for equal housing opportunities regardless of race, creed, or national origin, was enacted on April 11, 1968. Just seven days earlier, on April 4, 1968, Martin Luther King was assassinated in Memphis, TN, at the age of 39.
Do you think MLK’s dream, as expressed in his famous speech of 1963, has been fulfilled? Please, leave your thoughts in the comment section below.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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