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Martin Luther King: I Have A Dream/Texty

26. 9. 2007
/T

Delivered on the steps at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington

D.C. on August 28, 1963

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow

we stand 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 captivity.

But one hundred years later, we must face the tragic fact that

the Negro is still not free. One hundred years later, the life of

the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation

and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the

Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast

ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro

is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds

himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to

dramatize an appalling condition.

In a sense we have 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 would be

guaranteed the inalienable 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. Instead of

honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro

people a bad check which has come back marked "insufficient

funds." But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is

bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds

in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have

come to cash this check -- a check that will give us upon demand

the riches of freedom and the security of justice. 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 rise from the dark and desolate valley of

segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time

to open the doors of opportunity to all of God's children. Now is

the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial

injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the

moment and to underestimate the determination of the Negro. This

sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not

pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and

equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning.

Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will

now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns

to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility

in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The

whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of

our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on

the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the

process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of

wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom

by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.

We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity

and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to

degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise

to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul

force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro

community must not lead us to distrust of all white people, for

many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here

today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with

our destiny and their freedom is inextricably bound to our

freedom. We cannot walk alone.

And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall march

ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the

devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?" We can

never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue

of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and

the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the

Negro's basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one.

We can never be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi

cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for

which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be

satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness

like a mighty stream.

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great

trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow

cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for

freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and

staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the

veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith

that unearned suffering is redemptive.

Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to Georgia,

go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our

northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will

be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.

I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties

and frustrations of the moment, I still have a dream. It is a

dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

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."

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons

of former slaves and the sons of former slaveowners will be able

to sit down together at a table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a

desert state, sweltering with the heat of injustice and

oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and

justice.

I have a dream that my four 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.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day the state of Alabama, whose

governor's lips are presently dripping with the words of

interposition and nullification, will be transformed into a

situation where little black boys and black girls will be able to

join hands with little white boys and white girls and walk

together as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted,

every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places

will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight,

and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall

see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith with which I return to the

South. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain

of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to

transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful

symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work

together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail

together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will

be free one day.

This will be the day when all of God's children will be able to

sing with a new meaning, "My country, 'tis of thee, sweet land of

liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the

pilgrim's pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring."

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!"

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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