I Have A Dream

Dissecting The Speech


Sometimes it takes all you have to fight for a cause, for some people this means their life. Here you will read a speech from a man who was murdered just for his beliefs and actions on racial equality and a communities reactions to this tragedy. Two very different yet equally moving pieces of work

I Have A Dream

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. And so we've come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we've come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the "unalienable Rights" of "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked "insufficient funds."

But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so, we've come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.

We have also come to this 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. And those who hope 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. And 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.

But there is something that I must say to my people, who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice: In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.

The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom.

We cannot walk alone.

And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead.

We cannot turn back.

There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?" We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. *We cannot be satisfied as long as the negro's basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their self-hood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating: "For Whites Only."* We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until "justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream."¹

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. And some of you have come from areas where your quest -- quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive. Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed.

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."2

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, and 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!

Analysis Of Speech


A. Who was the speaker? Martin Luther King Jr.

B. Where was the speech given? The Lincoln Memorial Washington DC.

C. When was the speech given? August 28, 1963.

D. Who was the audience? 250,000 people were present when the speech was given.

E. What is the speaker trying to accomplish? Equality among everyone in America.


A. What were the important points that were to be made? He made important points pertaining to equality, stating they (African Americans and other oppressed groups) would never be satisfied until they have the same rights as everyone else in the United States.

B. What information did the audience need? The audience needed more encouragement than knowledge when this speech was given. Though King did state that even in the Constitution it is said "all men are created equal" this speech was mostly an encouragement that no matter what equality would one day be prominent in America.

C. What attitude did the speech convey? This speech showed emotions of passion and determination for the cause of equality.


A. Did the speech have a clear beginning, middle, and end? Yes.

B. Did the speech contain repetition? Yes.

1. If so, what was the effect of the repetition? The effect of repetition in this speech was for it to have a sort of rhythmic element along with getting your point across.

2. If not, where would repetition have been useful?

C. Did the speech contain parallel structure? Yes

1. If so, what was the effect of the parallel structure?

2. If not, where would parallel structure have been useful?

D. Was the vocabulary appropriate? Explain your answer.

E. Was the sentence structure appropriate? Explain your answer.


A. What first impression did the speaker create?

B. How was the dress and appearance of the speaker appropriate to

the speech?

"Pit race against race, religion against religion, prejudice against prejudice. Divide and conquer! We must not let that happen here." - Eleanor Roosevelt

The Funeral Of Martin Luther King Jr

His headstone read FREE AT LAST, FREE AT LAST But death is a slave’s freedom We seek the freedom of free men And the construction of a world Where Martin Luther King could have lived and preached non-violence


a) Summarize the content of the poem. What is the subject of the poem? What happens in the poem? The subject of this poem is the aftermath of Martin Luther King's assassination, what's happening is the author is reflecting on what it would be like if he were not killed.

b) Identify the speaker and to whom they are speaking. Is the speaker speaking in the

first or third person? Nikki Giovanni is speaking in 3rd person to those who are wondering why King is gone.

c) Does the poem focus on a character or relationship? It focuses on a character's relationship with a group of people.

d) What is the themes/ideas does the poem explore? What was the purpose for

writing this poem? This poem explores themes such as uncertainty and the purpose was to make the user think about the situations leading after King's assassination and how history could have been different.

e) Identify the tone the poem and explain how the poet created that tone through

specific references to the text. The theme Giovanni created was quite saddening, one of those "What If" moments which we've all had. She created this tone specifically with the sentence "And the construction of a world Where Martin Luther King could have lived and preached non-violence".

f) Identify the use of figurative language in the poem and explain how the use of this

language contributes to the effect created in each poem. She uses personification saying "Death is a slave's freedom" which gives an unnerving yet truthful impact to the reader.

g) Identify the distinctive cultural/contextual elements of the poem. Does setting play

an important role? Though there is no specific setting given, this poem does create somewhat of an image of what the black community felt after King's death.

h) Identify any imagery used in the poem and the purpose for using it. Is the imagery

abstract or concrete? This poem uses a blend of both abstract and concrete imagery.

i) How does the poem make use of sound? Does the poet use alliteration, rhyme,

assonance, consonance, onomatopoeia or other poetic devices to make an

impression with sound? No it doesn't

j) Comment on the structure of the poem. How does the structure of the poem

contribute to meaning? This poems structure contributes to the meaning by the questioning minds of the broken community being brought together in uncertainty, short but straight to the point.

Remember: Bethany McCormick

Tell them, tell them all

Not all of the great heroes had to brawl

Some used peace

Some used war

Some used words spoken like never before

But have we let them go in vain

Has all our happiness come from their pain

Has our generation yet forgotten

The trials that have already rotted

"We've learned from the past, it will not repeat" They cry

Yet they are the first to cast an evil eye

Not one person, but all are guilty

For we have some how forgotten we are free

Free from Britain, free from war

Free from those who's stripes we bore

Untied from the reins of slavery past

We look behind from rose colored glass

Romanticize, romanticize those hard times

Drown out the soul's hurting cries

But whatever you do some will never forget

The labors of those left in debt.

Critical Thinking

Martin Luther King and Nikki Giovanni were both prominent figures during the Civil Rights Movement, one being a writer and the other an activist. King gave a speech declaring his dream for this cause's outcome where as Giovanni brought attention to current problems. In King's speech he uses facts from history like the US Constitution and the Civil War. He states all men are equal like Abraham Lincoln had said 100 years before him. For him this speech was one of the highlights of his role and brought major attention to the subject of police brutality. During this week I was impacted by the movie Selma seeing how people risked their lives just to make sure they and future generations would have their promised equal rights.