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I Have a Dream (Excerpt)

Martin Luther King, Jr.'s famous "I Have a Dream" speech was delivered on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial at the conclusion of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on August 28, 1963. Delivered in the rhetorical tradition of the African-American church, the speech is hailed as a masterpiece, epitomizing King's eloquent and powerful oratory. In the excerpts that follow, King issues an urgent call to action and articulates his vision of a society based on racial harmony and equality.

We have also come to his 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 hoped 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.

Source | Martin Luther King, Jr., "I Have a Dream," address to the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, 28 August 1963, from History and Politics Out Loud, http://www.hpol.org/transcript.php?id=72.
Creator | Martin Luther King, Jr.
Item Type | Speech
Cite This document | Martin Luther King, Jr., “I Have a Dream (Excerpt),” HERB: Resources for Teachers, accessed November 19, 2019, https://herb.ashp.cuny.edu/items/show/1265.

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