Martin Luther King's I Have A Dream Speech

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On 28 August 1963, more than 200,000 demonstrators took part in the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in the nation’s capital. The march was successful in pressuring the administration of John F. Kennedy to initiate a strong federal civil rights bill in Congress. During this event, Martin Luther King delivered his memorable ‘‘I Have a Dream’’ speech. The 1963 March on Washington had several precedents. In the summer of 1941 A. Philip Randolph, founder of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, called for a march on Washington, D. C., to draw attention to the exclusion of African Americans from positions in the national defense industry. This job market had proven to be closed to blacks, despite the fact that it was growing to supply…show more content…
In the speech’s original version Lewis charged that the Kennedy administration’s proposed Civil Rights Act was ‘‘too little and too late,’’ and threatened not only to march in Washington but to ‘‘march through the South, through the heart of Dixie, the way Sherman did. We will pursue our own ‘scorched earth’ policy’’ (Lewis, 221; 224). In a caucus that included King, Randolph, and SNCC’s James Forman, Lewis agreed to eliminate those and other phrases, but believed that in its final form his address ‘‘was still a strong speech, very strong’’ (Lewis, 227). The day’s high point came when King took the podium toward the end of the event, and moved the Lincoln Memorial audience and live television viewers with what has come to be known as his ‘‘I Have a Dream’’ speech. King commented that ‘‘as television beamed the image of this extraordinary gathering across the border oceans, everyone who believed in man’s capacity to better himself had a moment of inspiration and confidence in the future of the human race,’’ and characterized the march as an ‘‘appropriate climax’’ to the summer’s events (King, ‘‘I Have a Dream,’’ 125;

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