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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In his “I Have a Dream” speech, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. very eloquently outlines the desires and aspirations of African Americans. Very soon after beginning to speak, he notes that it has been 100 years since the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation; yet, “the Negro is still not free.” Of course, in the 100 years since gaining legal freedom, African Americans were still hungry for actual freedom. Shortly thereafter, King metaphorically suggests that African Americans intended to “cash a check,” written by the country’s founders. In those founding documents, equality was championed and every person was said to be entitled to the life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. In denying African Americans those privileges, King suggested that America was attempting to pass a worthless check. As he articulately progresses to the repetition of the words, “I have a dream,” he specifically notes the desire for “equality,” “brotherhood,” and “freedom and justice.” He also mentions the sincere desire for a time when “they (African Americans) will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

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