Martin Luther King, Jr.: “I Have a Dream” Speech


On August 28, 1963, nearly a quarter of a million people arrived in the District of Columbia for the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Amid the day’s various events and speeches, one stood out: Martin Luther King, Jr.‘s speech “I Have a Dream.” His oration eclipsed the remarks of all other speakers that day and is among the most quoted American public addresses. “I Have a Dream” has come to epitomize the aspirations of the modern civil rights movement.

The marchers on that day in 1963 had been summoned by the veteran African American labor leader A. Philip Randolph to urge the federal government to broaden economic opportunities for low-income families and to pressure Congress to pass the Civil Rights Act, which was then being debated. Delegations of civil rights supporters from cities across the United States thus joined together for a massive one-day protest. The orderly crowd assembled in front of the Lincoln Memorial and listened as representatives of labor,...

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Martin Luther King, Jr. (Library of Congress)

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