“I Have a Dream” by Dr. Martin Luther King

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  • 8/13/2019 I Have a Dream by Dr. Martin Luther King


    I Have a Dream by Dr. Martin LutherKing

    August 28, 1963

    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.

    Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today,signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a greatbeacon light of hope to millions of egro slaves who had been seared in the flamesof withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybrea! to end the long night of theircaptivity .

    "ut one hundred years later, the egro still is not free. #ne hundred years later, thelife of the egro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chainsof discrimination. #ne hundred years later, the egro lives on a lonely island ofpoverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. #ne hundred years later,the egro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself ane$ile in his own land. And so we%ve come here today to dramati&e a shamefulcondition.

    In a sense we%ve come to our nation%s capital to cash a chec!. 'hen the architects ofour republic wrote the magnificent words of the (onstitution and the )eclaration ofIndependence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was tofall heir. This note was a promise that all men , yes, blac! men as well as white men,would be guaranteed the *unalienable +ights of *-ife, -iberty and the pursuit of

    appiness. It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note,insofar as her citi&ens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacredobligation, America has given the egro people a bad chec!, a chec! which hascome bac! mar!ed *insufficient funds.

    "ut we refuse to believe that the ban! of justice is ban!rupt . 'e refuse to believe thatthere are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so,we%ve come to cash this chec!, a chec! that will give us upon demand the riches of

    freedom and the security of justice.

    'e have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency ofow. This is no time to engage in the lu$ury of cooling off or to ta!e the tran/uili&ing

    drug of gradualism. ow is the time to ma!e real the promises of democracy. ow isthe time to rise from the dar! and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. ow is the time to lift our nation from the /uic!sands of racial injusticeto the solid roc! of brotherhood. ow is the time to ma!e justice a reality for all of0od%s children.

    It would be fatal for the nation to overloo! the urgency of the moment. This sweltering

    summer of the egro%s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigoratingautumn of freedom and e/uality. ineteen si$ty1three is not an end, but a beginning.

  • 8/13/2019 I Have a Dream by Dr. Martin Luther King


    And those who hope that the egro needed to blow off steam and will now becontent will have a rude awa!ening if the nation returns to business as usual. Andthere will be neither rest nor tran/uility in America until the egro is granted hisciti&enship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to sha!e the foundations ofour nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

    "ut there is something that I must say to my people, who stand on the warmthreshold which leads into the palace of justice2 In the process of gaining our rightfulplace, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. -et us not see! to satisfy our thirst forfreedom by drin!ing from the cup of bitterness and hatred. 'e must forever conductour struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. 'e must not allow ourcreative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must riseto the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.

    The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the egro community must notlead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidencedby their presence here today, have come to reali&e that their destiny is tied up withour destiny. And they have come to reali&e that their freedom is ine$tricably bound toour freedom.

    'e cannot wal! alone.

    And as we wal!, we must ma!e the pledge that we shall always march ahead.

    'e cannot turn bac!.

    There are those who are as!ing the devotees of civil rights, *'hen will you besatisfied3 'e can never be satisfied as long as the egro is the victim of theunspea!able horrors of police brutality. 'e can never be satisfied as long as ourbodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of thehighways and the hotels of the cities. 'e cannot be satisfied as long as the negro%sbasic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. 'e can never be satisfied aslong as our children are stripped of their self1hood and robbed of their dignity by asign stating2 *For 'hites #nly. 'e cannot be satisfied as long as a egro in4ississippi cannot vote and a egro in ew 5or! believes he has nothing for whichto vote. o, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until *justice rollsdown li!e waters, and righteousness li!e a mighty stream. 6

  • 8/13/2019 I Have a Dream by Dr. Martin Luther King


    I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials andtribulations. 7ome of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. And some of youhave come from areas where your /uest 8 /uest for freedom left you battered by thestorms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. 5ou have beenthe veterans of creative suffering. (ontinue to wor! with the faith that unearned

    suffering is redemptive. 0o bac! to 4ississippi, go bac! to Alabama, go bac! to7outh (arolina, go bac! to 0eorgia, go bac! to -ouisiana, go bac! to the slums andghettos of our northern cities, !nowing that somehow this situation can and will bechanged.

    -et 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 adream. 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 ofits creed2 * 'e hold these truths to be self1evident, that all men are created e/ual .

    I have a dream that one day on the red hills of 0eorgia, the sons of former slavesand the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table ofbrotherhood.

    I have a dream that one day even the state of 4ississippi, a state sweltering with theheat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into anoasis of freedom and justice.

    I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they willnot be judged by the color of their s!in but by the content of their character.

    I have a dream today9

    I have a dream that one day, do wn in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with itsgovernor having his lips dripping with the words of *interposition and *nullification 8one day right there in Alabama little blac! boys and blac! girls will be able to joinhands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

    I have a dream today9

    I have a dream that one day every valley shall be e$alted, and every hill andmountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the croo!edplaces will be made straight: *and the glory of the -ord shall be revealed and all fleshshall see it together. ;

    This is our hope, and this is the faith that I go bac! to the 7outh with .

    'ith this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope.'ith this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into abeautiful symphony of brotherhood. 'ith this faith, we will be able to wor! together,

    to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedomtogether, !nowing that we will be free one day.

  • 8/13/2019 I Have a Dream by Dr. Martin Luther King


    And this will be the day < this will be the day when all of 0od%s children will be able tosing with new meaning2

    4y country %tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing.

    -and where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrim%s pride,

    From every mountainside, let freedom ring9

    And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true.

    And so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of ew ampshire.

    -et freedom ring from the mighty mountains of ew 5or!.

    -et freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.

    -et freedom ring from the snow1capped +oc!ies of (olorado.

    -et freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of (alifornia.

    "ut not only that2

    -et freedom ring from 7tone 4ountain of 0eorgia.

    -et freedom ring from -oo!out 4ountain of Tennessee.

    -et freedom ring from every hill and molehill of 4ississippi.

    From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

    And when this happens, when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from everyvillage and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed upthat day when all of 0od%s children , blac! men and white men, =ews and 0entiles,Protestants and (atholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old

    egro spiritual2

  • 8/13/2019 I Have a Dream by Dr. Martin Luther King


    Free at last! Free at last!

    Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! >


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