In an inspiring speech that educated many of his listeners, Martin Luther King, Jr. organized his oration from the introduction of the problem of racial discrimination to the solution of personal freedom for all and America's redemption from its racial sins.
In the beginning of his speech, King alludes to the great documents of the Founding Fathers of America, The Declaration of Independence, The Constitution of the United States, The Emancipation Proclamation, all of which confirm of the equality of man. In addition, he refers to them as "promissory notes" that have not been paid because the Negro is still not free.
One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.
Now, King states, the people assembled before him have come to cash the promissory note, "this check." There can be no gradual change; it must be now, he continues. Expressing the urgency of this demand, King says,
There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights.
Further, King states that his people will not rest until there is change; and, he encourages them to peacefully begin to seek their freedom immediately,
Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice.
And, King urges them never to turn back until freedom is achieved, until the dream is realized. Thus, he ends with inspiring words to ignite the people to pursue their goal of fair treatment and justice.