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

(1963)

Impact

King's words were broadcast live by the three major television networks into homes across the United States. Millions of people for whom King had been only a name in the news were thus able to witness the power of his oratory firsthand. One of the many who were impressed was President Kennedy, who remarked while viewing coverage of the march in the White House, “That guy is really good” (Garrow, p. 677). Despite his privately expressed admiration, however, the chief executive was unwilling to praise King in public for fear of drawing the ire of die-hard segregationists.

Public reaction to the speech was largely favorable. The next day's edition of the New York Times was generous in its praise, with a front-page headline reading, “Peroration by Dr. King Sums Up a Day the Capital Will Remember.” The Motown Company released an unauthorized recording of King's speech that sold briskly in African American record stores. A few black militants, however, chided march...

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Martin Luther King, Jr. (Library of Congress)

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