Commentary on Martin Luther King, Jr.: “I Have a Dream” Speech (1963) On August 28, 1963, nearly a quarter of million people arrived in the District of Columbia for the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. In the midst of the days various events and speeches, one stood out: Martin Luther King, Jr’s speech “ I Have a Dream”. It is a political text in which he called for racial equality and an end to the discrimination. His oration eclipsed the remarks of all other speakers that day and it is among the most quoted American public addresses. According to the 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, and he informed not just the people there, but people throughout America and unborn generations. “I Have a Dream” has come to symbolise the aspirations of the modern civil rights movement. "The son, the grandson, and the great grandson of preachers," as he so tactfully reminded the clergymen addressed in "Letter from Birmingham Jail," Martin Luther King, Jr., was born on January 15, 1929, in Atlanta, Georgia. Educated at Morehouse College and at Crozer Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania, he was ordained a Baptist minister in his father's church at 18. In 1955, he completed a doctorate in systematic theology at Boston University. That December, he called a citywide boycott of segregated buses in Montgomery, Alabama, where he had been serving as pastor of a church for over a year. From then until his death in Memphis in 1968, King travelled over six million miles and spoke over twenty-five hundred times, appearing wherever there was injustice, protest and action. Meanwhile he wrote five books as well as numerous articles. In these years, he led a massive protest in Birmingham, Alabama, that caught the attention of the entire world, providing what he called a coalition of conscience and inspiring his "Letter from a Birmingham Jail", a manifesto of the Negro revolution. He also planned the drives in Alabama for the registration of Negroes as voters and he directed the peaceful march on Washington, D.C., of 250,000 people to whom he delivered his address, "l Have a Dream". Dr. King conferred with President John F. Kennedy and campaigned for President Lyndon B. Johnson and was arrested upwards of twenty times and assaulted at least four times. At the age of thirty-five, Martin Luther King, Jr., was the youngest man, who has received the Nobel Peace Prize. When notified of his selection, he announced that he would turn over the prize money of $54,123 to the
furtherance of the civil rights movement. On the evening of April 4, 1968, while he was standing on the balcony of his motel room in Memphis, Tennessee, where he was to lead a protest march in sympathy with striking garbage workers of that city, he was assassinated. The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom it was the largest demonstration ever seen in the nation's capital, and one of the first to have extensive television coverage. The marchers on that day in 1963 had been summoned by the veteran African American labour leader A. Philip Randolph to urge the federal government to broaden economic opportunities for low-income families and to pressure Congress to pass the Civil Rights Act, which was then being debated. Delegations of civil rights supporters from cities across the United States thus joined together for a massive one-day protest. The immediate audience for Dr. King's speech was the approximately 250,000 people gathered on August 28, 1963, in front of the Lincoln Memorial and around the nearby Reflecting Pool. Additional millions listened on the radio and watched on television. King's words were aimed at all Americans. For black listeners they carried a message of hope...
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