What advice did Martin Luther King, Jr. give to black people in his "I Have a Dream" speech?

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pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The main advice that Martin Luther King, Jr. gives to African Americans in this speech has to do with the idea of nonviolence for which King is famous.  He urges his people to make sure that they keep the moral high ground in their struggle for civil rights.

King is famous for having believed in the idea of nonviolent protest.  He thought that was the only kind of action that could actually gain African Americans the rights that they wanted and deserved.  He believed that nonviolent protest would convince white people that the people who wanted to keep blacks from having equal rights were on the wrong side of the argument.  Therefore, he urged African Americans to continue to use nonviolence. 

King tells African Americans that they “must not be guilty of wrongful deeds” in their attempt to gain their rights.  He said that they had to make sure that they did not let themselves give in to their anger over how whites had treated them. As he said:

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.

Thus, we can see that King’s main advice to African Americans is that they need to continue to fight for civil rights, but that they need to adhere to the tenets of nonviolence as they do so.

Read the study guide:
"I Have a Dream" speech

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