Tuesday, May 1, 2007
I Have a Dream, August 28, 1963
In the early 1960's, Martin Luther King endured numerous arrests. By the early 1960's, he had been stoned and attacked by assailants in public and his home bombed by white supremist. In the early 1960's, the U.S. government and the FBI's J. Edgar Hoover labeled him a leftest, a womanizer, then placed him under surveillance. And in the early 1960's, Martin Luther King prevailed. Undeterred, Martin Luther King led more than 250,000 people in a civil rights march in Washington DC. Centered at the Lincoln Memorial, Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his famous I Have A Dream speech.
Just months earlier in Birmingham, Alabama, organized groups of black children sang "We Shall Overcome". The police began arresting children, and in total 959 children were put in jail! The following day, now depleted of holding cells, the police and fireman hosed children with a jetstream so powerful to break bones! Martin Luther King, Jr.'s civil rights march in Washington was a culmination of these unsettling events as witnessed by most American's on the evening news.
Televised on CBS, NBC, and ABC live, anyone watching television that day saw it. John F. Kennedy was watching and greatly moved. King's powerful, eloquent delivery stirred a nation toward change. In a rarity for TV, the entire speech was repeated on nightly news broadcast that August 28, 1963. His biblical and historical based speech struck a chord with most Americans. The performance won him the honor of Time Magazine's Person of the Year in late 1963, and a Nobel Peace prize in 1964. Later in 1964, President Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act.
Here is the end of King's speech, often referred to as one of the greatest American speeches ever produced, as he proclaims freedom across the nation:
"And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!
"Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!"
"Let freedom ring from the curvaceous peaks of California!"
"But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!"
"Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!"
"Let freedom ring from every hill and every molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring."
"When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, 'Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!'"
Watch the full speech below as it unfolded on television.