I Have A Dream . . ., Martin Luther King, Jr. 1963
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.
King, Martin Luther, Jr. ""I Have A Dream"" March on Washington. Https://www.archives.gov/press/exhibits/dream-speech.pdf, Washington D.C. 27 Aug. 2016. Speech.
The tone change between paragraphs three and four can best be described as