Luther King's Most Famous Speech
August 28, 1963,
Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his famous "I Have a
Dream" Speech at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington,
this historic speech, King said he had a dream that white
and black children would one day walk hand in hand and that
one day sons of former slaves and sons of former slaveowners
would be able to agree to live together.
1950s, 1960s and 1970s were tremendously difficult times for
African-Americans. They were not treated like white
Americans simply because of their skin color. And the laws
protected the bad treatment they got. Laws requiring
"separate" hotels, restaurants, schools, and even drinking
fountains were common in many states.
Luther King was a leader in the Civil Rights Movement, a
drive to get more equal treatment for all Americans, not
just white Americans.
speech was important in several ways:
brought even greater attention to the Civil Rights
Movement, which had been going on for many years. King's
speech was part of the March on Washington, a gathering
of more than 250,000 people in the nation's capital.
African-Americans still were not treated as equals.
Marches like this one and ones earlier in Detroit and
other cities called attention to this fact.
speech was given in the shadow of the Lincoln Memorial,
the monument honoring President Abraham Lincoln, who
issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which freed slaves
in the Southern states. By giving his speech there, King
was wanting to call attention to how things were so
terrible a century before (during the Civil War) and how
some things hadn't changed so very much in 100
brought Martin Luther King and his message of
non-violence to a nationwide (and worldwide) audience.
The speech was carried on radio and was reprinted in
newspapers and magazines all over the United States and
all over the world. After this speech, the name Martin
Luther King was known to many more people than
made Congress move faster in passing the Civil Rights
Act. This set of laws was finally passed the next year,
in 1964. Many of these laws gave African-Americans more
equal treatment than they ever had before.
Luther King continued to speak out for civil rights and for
nonviolence. Sadly, he was killed in 1968. But the memory of
his famous "I Have a Dream" speech and the message it
contains live on.
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