Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

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Martin Luther King, 1964

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is one of the most recognized Civil Rights leaders. His I Have a Dream speech has been widely circulated since it was first given in 1963.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is one of the most prominently known African-American history leaders. Most notably recognized for his work during the civil rights era, Dr. King gave his life so that generations after him would be treated as equals and that all people could live together in harmony. His most famous speech, “I Have a Dream” has been widely circulated by countless education and political professional and is known as one of the great speeches in American History.

Civil Rights Movement

The American-Civil Rights Movement, also known as the African-American Civil rights movement is the result of a series of events that took place in America from 1955-1968. During this time, racial tension were high as African Americans sought to be treated as equals to their white counterparts. Events such as Brown v. Board of Education, the Montgomery Bus Boycott that ensued after Rosa parks refusal to give up her seat on the bus, as well as The Little Rock Nine, The Sit-ins and the Freedom Rides spurred a number of non-violent protests that frequently led to violent eruptions between African-Americans and law enforcement. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and countless other worked tirelessly to bring about change and a solution to the problems that faced their community.

March on Washington

In 1941, A. Philip Randolph planned a march to take place in Washington DC to support the elimination of employment discrimination, however he called off the march when the current administration issued Executive Order 8802 which bared racial discrimination and developed an agency to ensure compliance with the order. In 1962, Randolph and another leader, Baynard Rustin began planning another march which would be more inclusive of all civil rights efforts. Issues such as meaningful laws, federal works programs, fair employment and housing practices, votes, and adequate education would be addresses. Despite the Kennedy administration’s insistence on the ending the march, the leaders moved forward as planned and the march was held on August 28, 1963. It is here that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his “I Have a Dream” speech.

I Have a Dream

Let 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 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!

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” — one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and 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 together.”

This is our hope, and this is the faith that I 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.

And this will be the 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 Pilgrim’s pride,

From every mountainside, let freedom ring!

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

And 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 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, 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!