We all know about Dr. King’s famous “I Have A Dream” speech that he gave during the March on Washington on August 28, 1963, but how much do you actually know about this speech and what it says. If I asked you to say one line from the entire speech, you would probably quote the line that says, “I have a dream…” Sadly enough, most people only know that part and not even the part that finishes the rest of that sentence. Did you know that in its fullness that the first time Dr. King states this line in his speech it states, “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up, and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’?” In fact, Dr. King starts six different sentences with the phrase, “I have a dream.”
Here’s some quick little facts before I get into the meat of this post:
- It also wasn’t the first threatened March on Washington by civil rights leaders. In 1941, organizers were planning a march to demand desegregation in the U.S. military as World War II approached. But President Franklin Roosevelt averted the march by signing Executive Order 8802 in June, 1941, banning discrimination in the federal government and defense industries. .
- Almost no one could clearly hear Dr. King’s speech. An expensive sound system was installed for the event, but it was sabotaged right before it. Attorney General Robert Kennedy enlisted the Army Corps of Engineers to fix the system.
- Of the estimated 250,000 people who attended the March, about 60,000 were white. People came from all over the country, and few arrests were reported.
- Dr. King almost didn’t give the “I Have a Dream” part of the “I Have A Dream” speech. Singer Mahalia Jackson urged Dr. King to tell the audience “about the dream,” and Dr. King went into an improvised section of the speech.
So, why is it important to know more of this speech than just the “I have a dream” part? The reason why I’m writing this post is to urge you to read the rest of the speech (I have attached a copy to this post for your convenience) because without knowing the entire speech, it all just seems like a dream. Without knowing the entirety of the speech, it all just seems like optimism and something that probably will never actually come to fruition. Knowing the rest of this speech, brings substance to the dream.
READ: Full Speech from the National Archives
LISTEN: Full Speech from Internet Archive
It brings substance that lets you know what this dream is rooted in. It lets you the reason why Dr. King had this dream. Knowing the entire speech, lets you experience how powerful Dr. King’s dream is. It makes you feel the same way Dr. King felt. I promise you that knowing the entire speech will send chills down your body (I get chills every time I read/listen to it).
I think of it like this… say I had a friend who told me that she wanted to find the cure to breast cancer, and that is all she told me. Knowing just this and nothing more, is great! It’s a wonderful thing for someone to pursue. Now, let’s say that the same friend told me more and said that she wanted to find the cure to breast cancer because it’s hereditary in her family, and that her mother and three other family members died because of breast cancer. It makes me go from saying, “that’s great” to saying, “WOW!”
While I am urging you to read/listen to the rest of Dr. Kings “I Have A Dream” speech, I am also urging you to know the entirety of every famous and monumental speech given, whether old or new.
(10 fascinating facts about the “I Have A Dream” speech, NCC Staff, August 28, 2019, https://constitutioncenter.org/blog/10-fascinating-facts-about-the-i-have-a-dream-speech)