I Have a Dream, Martin Luther King, Jr., 1963
This is an excerpt of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s most famous speech
1. I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history
2. as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our
4. Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic
5. shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation.
6. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope
7. to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames
8. of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the
9. long night of their captivity.
10. But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One
11. hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled
12. by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination.
13. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of
14. poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One
15. hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners
16. of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land.
17. And so we've come here today to dramatize a shameful
19. In a sense we've come to our nation's capital to cash a check.
20. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of
21. the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were
22. signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir.
23. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as
24. white men, would be guaranteed the "unalienable Rights" of "Life,
25. Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." It is obvious today that
26. America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her
27. citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred
28. obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a
29. check which has come back marked "insufficient funds."
30. But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt.
31. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the
32. great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so, we've come
33. to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the
34. riches of freedom and the security of justice.
35. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of
36. the fierce urgency of Now. This is no time to engage in the luxury
37. of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now
38. is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the
39. time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to
40. the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation
41. from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of
42. brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of
43. God's children.
44. It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the
45. moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate
46. discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of
47. freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a
48. beginning. And those who hope that the Negro needed to blow
49. off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if
50. the nation returns to business as usual. And there will be neither
51. rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his
52. citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake
53. the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.
54. But there is something that I must say to my people, who stand on
55. the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice: In the
56. process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of
57. wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by
58. drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever
59. conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline.
60. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical
61. violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of
62. meeting physical force with soul force.
63. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro
64. community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for
65. many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here
66. today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our
67. destiny. And they have come to realize that their freedom is
68. inextricably bound to our freedom.
69. We cannot walk alone.
70. And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always
71. march ahead.
72. We cannot turn back.
In paragraphs 2 and 3, the allusions serve to