The Negro Still Is Not Free

By: Myia Neal

"One hundred years later the life of the Negro is still badly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination." -Martin Luther King Jr.

Summary and Significance

In his prominent, inspiring speech, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr describes the injustice Negros must face. This speech was given during the "March on Washington" march to help those in poverty, who were surrounded by material prosperity as well as facing segregation and discrimination. To prove the unalienable rights of life, King refers back to the construction of the Declaration of Independence, which was a promissory note to every American, including Negros, to not be languished to the bottom of society and escape shameful conditions that exile them to their own land. The Negro has faced enough cruelty. He wants his people to not be judged by the color of their skin, but by character. One cannot be truly free until equal and happy.

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"When the architects of our Republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory not to which every American was to fall their heir... Yes, black men as well as white men..."

In the first part of King's speech, he explains how the Constitution was meant for all men, and for these men to treat each other equally. The blacks have waited over one hundred years for this opportunity of freedom, and King was their leader. In his speech, he says "In a sense, we've come to our nation's capital to cash a check." In this picture, King is shown doing the impossible at the time: shaking a white man's hand, cashing the overdue check of equality,

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"We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of the police brutality."

In the second part of King's speech, he says that as long as the Negro is the victim of this injustice, they can never be satisfied. From adults having to find safety in a community where everyone is attacking them to children being stripped of their dignity by having to know "their place" by staring up at signs that boldly say "For Whites Only", people had the audacity to tell them they are "free".
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"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."

In the third section of King's speech, he mentions his dream. His dream was that all men could be created equal. Truly equal. His dream was that his fellow people of color could escape the vicious racists and cruel justice system. His dream was that we could create a world where people would not judge each other by the shades and tones of their skin color.
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"When we allow freedom to ring ... from 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, Great God a-mighty, We are free at last."

In the fourth section of King's speech, he concludes with how freedom can be for everyone the day that "all of God's children" can hold hands with each other. To make America the great nation it claimed to be, discrimination would need to come to an end. For King's dream to become reality, freedom was to be provided to all, no matter what.
Free At Last

"Free At Last"

This is an old Negro song that people sang together to celebrate their freedom and the journey their ancestors have faced. From slavery, to "freedom", to equality, they are free at last.
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