I Have a Dream facts for kids

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Martin Luther King - March on Washington
Martin Luther King, Jr. delivering his speech at the DC Civil Rights March

"I Have a Dream" is the name of a speech Martin Luther King, Jr. gave on August 28, 1963 while standing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.. In his speech, he spoke of his wish for the future. His wish was that people of different races could live together peacefully in the United States. The speech was given to over 200,000 supporters. He spoke of the discrimination that the black men have faced even though they were to be treated as equals after the great Abraham Lincoln signed the momentous decree; the Emancipation Proclamation. The speech is very famous. It has been called by many- the best speech given in the 20th century.

Background

IhaveadreamMarines
View from the Lincoln Memorial toward the Washington Monument on August 28, 1963

The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom was partly intended to demonstrate mass support for the civil rights legislation proposed by President Kennedy in June. Martin Luther King and other leaders therefore agreed to keep their speeches calm, also, to avoid provoking the civil disobedience which had become the hallmark of the Civil Rights Movement. King originally designed his speech as a homage to Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, timed to correspond with the 100-year centennial of the Emancipation Proclamation.

Among the most quoted lines of the speech include "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!"

According to U.S. Representative John Lewis, who also spoke that day as the president of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, "Dr. King had the power, the ability, and the capacity to transform those steps on the Lincoln Memorial into a monumental area that will forever be recognized. By speaking the way he did, he educated, he inspired, he informed not just the people there, but people throughout America and unborn generations."

Responses

I still have a dream, a dream deeply rooted in the American dream – one day this nation will rise up and live up to its creed, "We hold these truths to be self evident: that all men are created equal." I have a dream...

Martin Luther King Jr. (1963)

The speech was lauded in the days after the event, and was widely considered the high point of the March by contemporary observers. James Reston, writing for the New York Times, said that "Dr. King touched all the themes of the day, only better than anybody else. He was full of the symbolism of Lincoln and Gandhi, and the cadences of the Bible.

He was both militant and sad, and he sent the crowd away feeling that the long journey had been worthwhile." Reston also noted that the event "was better covered by television and the press than any event here since President Kennedy's inauguration", and opined that "it will be a long time before [Washington] forgets the melodious and melancholy voice of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. crying out his dreams to the multitude." An article in the Boston Globe by Mary McGrory reported that King's speech "caught the mood" and "moved the crowd" of the day "as no other" speaker in the event.

The speech was a success for the Kennedy administration and for the liberal civil rights coalition that had planned it. It was considered a "triumph of managed protest", and not one arrest relating to the demonstration occurred. Kennedy had watched King's speech on television and been very impressed. Afterwards, March leaders accepted an invitation to the White House to meet with President Kennedy. Kennedy felt the March bolstered the chances for his civil rights bill.

Legacy

Lyndon Johnson signing Civil Rights Act, July 2, 1964
Lyndon Johnson signing Civil Rights Act, July 2, 1964

In the wake of the speech and march, King was named Man of the Year by TIME magazine for 1963, and in 1964, he was the youngest person ever awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. The full speech did not appear in writing until August 1983, some 15 years after King's death, when a transcript was published in The Washington Post. In 2002, the Library of Congress honored the speech by adding it to the United States National Recording Registry. In 2003, the National Park Service dedicated an inscribed marble pedestal to commemorate the location of King's speech at the Lincoln Memorial.

The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial was dedicated in 2011. The centerpiece for the memorial is based on a line from King's "I Have A Dream" speech: "Out of a mountain of despair, a stone of hope." A 30 feet (9.1 m)-high relief of King named the "Stone of Hope" stands past two other pieces of granite that symbolize the "mountain of despair."

On August 28, 2013, thousands gathered on the mall in Washington D.C. where King made his historic speech to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the occasion. In attendance were former U.S. Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, and incumbent President Barack Obama, who addressed the crowd and spoke on the significance of the event. Many of King's family were in attendance.

On April 20, 2016, Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew announced that the U.S. $5 bill, which has featured the Lincoln Memorial on its back, would undergo a redesign prior to 2020. Lew said that a portrait of Lincoln would remain on the front of the bill, but the back would be redesigned to depict various historical events that have occurred at the memorial, including an image from King's speech.

Original copy of the speech

As King waved goodbye to the audience, he handed George Raveling the original typewritten "I Have a Dream" speech. Raveling, an All-American Villanova Wildcats college basketball player, had volunteered as a security guard for the event and was on the podium with King at that moment. Raveling still has custody of the original copy and has been offered as high as $3,000,000 for it, but claims to have no intention of selling it.

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