It was the last speech of the day during the March on Washington, a civil rights protest to end discrimination and inequality between Blacks and Whites. Baptist minister Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., one of the organizers of the civil rights movement, walked to the podium at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. Thousands waited to hear his words.
TV cameras were poised to record the speech. From the first moment that Dr. King spoke, his eloquent words transfixed his audience.
His speech echoed the Declaration of Independence, that all men should be free. He declared his belief that the struggle for equality should be nonviolent.
Some of his words that struck the strongest chord were, “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.’”
King’s “I Have a Dream” speech mobilized people to push for civil rights and equality for Black people. It helped propel President Lyndon Johnson and the U.S. Congress to pass the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
That same year, Dr. King won the Nobel Peace Prize. On April 4, 1968, as he was about to lead a protest march in sympathy with striking garbage workers in Tennessee, he was assassinated.