Martin Luther King Jr. makes his “I have a dream” speech

One of the most important dates in the history of the American Civil Rights Movement is 28 August 1963. On this day, in Washington DC, Martin Luther King Jr spoke to 250,000 people, most of them black. They had come to Washington from all over the USA to protest against discrimination, and Dr King inspired them and the millions of other people around the world who saw him on TV and heard him on radio.

 
In his speech, Dr King told his listeners that he dreamed about equality between blacks and whites. He repeated the words “I have a dream” several times, in sentences like this: "I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood."  
 
The speech impressed both ordinary people and important politicians, and in 1964 Dr King came to Norway to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.
 
 

Activity

Correct the information in these sentences:
  1. Everyone in Washington who heard Dr King speak was black.
  2. The people who were with Dr King all lived in Washington.
  3. A total of 25,000 people heard the speech.
  4. Dr King’s dream was that black people should have all the best jobs.
  5. Dr King said “I have a dream” once.
  6. Politicians did not listen to the speech.
  7. Dr King came to Norway to relax.

 

Activities for the links below

1) 

Click on the first link, and you will hear and see Dr King at the Lincoln Memorial in August 1963. His speech is one of the most powerful ever made in any country. We have printed two extracts from it which contain some of the most important things which Dr King said. Play the video first, then read the extracts and do the activity which follows them.


“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 captivity.


But one hundred years later, the Negro still is 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 languished in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. And so we’ve come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.”
 
“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 slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

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.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of “interposition” and “nullification” – one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today!”

 

a) Find the sentences in the first extract which contain these ideas:
  1. A document signed by Abraham Lincoln was of great importance to black people in the USA.
  2. Today black people still do not have the same rights as whites.
  3. While the majority of Americans live well, black Americans are poor.
  4. A hundred years ago, an important law was proposed.
  5. The Emancipation Proclamation brought slavery to an end.
  6. We are here today to demonstrate how unfair our position is.
 

b) The second extract contains these words:

“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.”

Put the idea in the sentence into your own words.

Now do the same with this one:
“I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.”

 

2)

Dr King’s speech inspired all sorts of people, including a wealthy New Yorker, Eugene Lang. Click on the second link, and you will find an article about his foundation (stiftelse). Using the information in the article, but expressing it more briefly and in your own words, write an interview with Mr Lang. You should write six questions (one for each paragraph) and six answers (again, one for each paragraph).

You can begin by asking “When and why did the I Have a Dream movement begin?” There is already a question for the third paragraph, but feel free to phrase it in other words.

 

Web resource

The speech (video/text)

http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/mlkihaveadream.htm

'I Have a Dream' Foundation

http://www.ihadla.org/