I Have A Dream

In 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. gave his famous "I Have a Dream" speech on the steps of which landmark?

And the answer: The Lincoln Memorial.

Photo courtesy: Newsweek.com

In August 1963, during the March on Washington, Dr. King spoke to a crowd of 250,000 people about the grave injustices faced by African Americans. The speech famously included the line, "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character."

When Martin Luther King Jr. delivered one of the most notable speeches of the Civil Rights movement, those four words that continue to live on in infamy – "I have a dream" – were almost those which the activist and reverend did not include in his speech. King had used the phrase in a previous Detroit rally, and while it had been received well at the time, King's adviser suggested to leave it out for the March on Washington. So, the night before the march, King created a new speech titled "Normalcy Never Again." However, as King began to address the congregation of some 250,000 people, gospel singer Mahalia Jackson urged him: "Tell 'em about the dream, Martin." And so, forever changing the course of history, he did.

The March on Washington was monumental for a multitude of reasons. Beyond the record-shattering display of support for the civil rights movement, its success came hand in hand with other firsts of many kinds. One notable yet perhaps less well-recognized fact is Bayard Rustin's contributions to the movement and the march itself. As an openly gay man, Rustin is now known as "the most important leader of the civil rights movement you probably have never heard of" for nearly singlehandedly planning the entire march in a matter of months while being an essential influence on King's understanding of nonviolent protest. Rustin's contributions were recognized posthumously, as he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Obama in 2013.

Read and listen along to historical speech here.


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