Martin Luther King, Jr.
I Have a Dream
"I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as
the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation."
"Five score years ago,
a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we
stand today, signed the
Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great
beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of
withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their
"In a sense we've
come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of
our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the
Declaration of Independence,
they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to
fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as
well as white men, would be guaranteed the "unalienable Rights" of
"Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." It is obvious today
that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her
citizens of color are concerned."
"We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the
fierce urgency of Now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take
the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of
democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the
sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of
racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a
reality for all of God's children."
Text and Audio of Address