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Martin Luther King's I have a dream speech August 28 1963

and more on this great American

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

Five score 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

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 in exile in his own land. So we have come here today to
dramatize an shameful condition.

In a sense we've 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 America has defaulted on this promissory
note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of
honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro
people a bad check; a check which has come back marked
"insufficient funds."

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. So we have come to cash this check- a check that will
give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of

We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the
fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of
cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism.

Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy.
Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to
the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to
lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the
solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children.

It 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 tranquility
in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The
whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our
nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

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
forever 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 marvelous 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.

And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall 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 the Negro's basic mobility is
from a smaller ghetto to a larger one.

We can never be satisfied as long as our chlidren are stripped of their
selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating "for whites only."

We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi
cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for
which to vote.

No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until
justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty

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 persecution 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, 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

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, that 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

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, 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

This 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.

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 Pilgrims' pride, from every mountainside, let freedom

And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true. So
let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire.
Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let
freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.

Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado. Let
freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California. But not
only that; let freedom ring from the Stone Mountain of Georgia.
Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee.

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi.
From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, and when we allow freedom 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!"

Tags: civil rights. freedom, king day, martin luther king, mlk
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