Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the foreground with other people standing attentively in the background

"I Have a Dream" Speech

by Martin Luther King Jr.
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What is the main message of the speech "I Have a Dream"?

The main message of Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" speech is that the promises made by the founding fathers in the Declaration of Independence and Constitution, as well as in Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation, have not and will not be fulfilled until the freedoms granted to white Americans are granted to Black Americans as well. Prejudice, racism, and segregation continue to "manacle" Black people, similarly to the way slavery once did.

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The main message of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech is that, despite the fact that slavery has been abolished for a century, Black people are still victims of prejudice, racism, and segregation. Enslaved persons were promised freedom, and yet their children's children a century later are still waiting for it.

In other words, Black people still lack the freedom that seems to be guaranteed them by the Emancipation Proclamation as well as by the founding documents of the United States of America. These documents state that all men, including both white and Black men, are created equal and possess the inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Despite these promises of equality, Black people are still victims of police brutality and of poverty and are still looked down upon by white Americans.

Ultimately, Dr. King argues that freedom from prejudice—real freedom and not just freedom in name—must ring out across the country, that children of all races must play together and hold hands with one another, and only then will the promises made by the founding fathers truly come to fruition, because only then will they apply to all Americans rather than just some.

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