I Have a Dream Speech

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On August 28th, 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. gave his most influential speech, “I Have a Dream”, in Washington DC. Martin Luther King Jr., who born in Atlanta, Georgia, started his non-violent protest for African Americans’ rights and equality in the late 1950’s. In 1963, thousands of people gathered from many states to Washington DC to join the march and specially to listen to King’s speech. The speech took place on the Lincoln Memorial. The reason for this was to honor Lincoln’s idea to abolish slavery. His speech included the words from the Bible, the Constitution, Lincoln, and the National Anthem. He applied some early promises that did not come true, the injustices of American society, and his vision for a renewed nation. By repeating the phrase “I have a dream...” he expressed the desires of all African American people and the demand for civil rights movements. His speech helped African Americans achieve more genuine progress toward racial equality in America than the previous 350 years had produced; it was truly the turning point of history and the turning point for African American lives.

Growing up a Christian and influenced by Mahatma Gandhi, King believed that the power of words was humongous. In 1955, King enlisted to serve as a spokesman for the Montgomery Bus Boycott in Montgomery, Alabama. Down there, by using the power of words, he prompted the U.S. Supreme Court to rule that racial segregation in transportation was unconstitutional. His first victory gave him the confidence of using words instead of fists. In 1957, he was then elected president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference which was an organization that provided the leadership for the civil rights movements. This position gave him a lot more power and influence which gave him more courage to do what he believed. In early 1963, King grouped up with other civil rights groups to solve the problems in the most segregated city of Birmingham, Alabama. During that time, he also drafted the “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” which described society’s inequality and the urgency of solving this situation. Later that year, King and other civil rights groups started the march for jobs and freedom known as “March on Washington.” And this is when he gave his most famous speech “I Have a Dream”. However, before the march, King triggered people to think about the injustices of society by publishing his writing in newspapers. His words depicted the situation that African Americans could not find good jobs and that they could get arrested without reason. However, his words were also against people who disagreed with him. King knew how dangerous the situation was, but he believed without all the protests and speeches, African Americans would never gain their equality. Under loads of pressure, King had a successful speech in Washington and it influenced people from all over America.

People from all over the states came to Washington to hear King’s speech. These groups included white people and black people. Everyone had different purposes for coming to Washington, but mostly people came to Washington to hear King preach, to tell them what they should do and to find a leader through these harsh times. As a result, King balanced his views of the nation and the solution of the severe racial problems. In the speech, he said “we've come to cash this check, a check that will give ns upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.” This line points out people’s desire to obtain their freedom and justice back and also started his illustration of what people should do in order to achieve their goals. Later in the speech he said, “'There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright days of justice emerge.” This line reveals the reality that without solving the equality problems of African Americans, the country could not return to business and they would not have peaceful times. At the end of the speech, he went off of his script and started preaching. By using parallelism which started with, “I have a dream...” it pumped people’s hearts and fortified their beliefs that one day the nation would become a fair-minded one and that there would no longer be racial problems. The end of the speech also strengthened people’s thoughts about fighting for this peace. The speech had a great impact on the audience and had a big influence in politics. After the speech, many people started questioning the government about why there were injustices and inquired about how would they fix the problem. The problems caused by the speech may have led King himself to big trouble.

In 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated by James Earl Ray. The greatest civil rights leader of all time left the world. Although people felt sad about his death, the assassination stimulated their desire to inherit King’s legacy. Right after his assassination, for instance, TIME readers from all over America wrote to the magazine to reveal their thoughts about his death and expressed how King’s speech influenced them. Meanwhile, Duke University students had organized a protest that became known as the “Silent Vigil.” On April 5, about 450 students marched to the university president’s home in the Duke Forest neighborhood. They presented four demands which included raising the minimum wage and asking for racial equality and freedom. Although Martin Luther King Jr. died, his spirit still existed in people’s hearts. Fifty years later, the spirit of King lives on. The young generation that lives in the 21st century is a reflection of King’s speech. The dream came true, black boys and girls study with white boys and girls. Black boys and girls play with white boys and girls. “Black” and “White” are just observations of skin color, they are no longer indicate a person’s quality or personality. The younger generation is carrying King’s spirit and preserving the dream from fifty years ago.

Ultimately, African Americans had a great influence throughout America history. In 1619, the first slave was traveling from Africa to America through the triangular trade. Two hundred years later, Abraham Lincoln drafted the Emancipation Proclamation to free the slaves which caused the Civil War. One hundred years later, Martin Luther King gave a speech about the equality of African Americans on Lincoln’s memorial which changed African Americans’ lives. The speech not only fortified their confidence to fight for their rights, but also persuaded many white people to join the fight. Fifty years later, people benefit from the peaceful relationships between black and white people.  King’s speech influenced not only his generation but also the younger generation. “Although King’s speech seems long time ago, but I think it influenced me. It changed the way people think about the African American, and it helped creating more and more opportunity for African American. It gave me a better life,” African American student Emmaneul Bajjabayira said. In the meantime, the non-violent movement was adopted in many countries. Speeches and protests are the most popular movements to share thoughts. King’s “I have a dream” speech changed the way of people view African Americans, it helped leaving King’s legacy and it impacted a new generation.






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