Martin Luther King, Jr.
“I Have a Dream” Speech Summary
Martin Luther King powerfully begins his speech by recalling to our memories those famous words spoken by Abraham Lincoln in his Emancipation Proclamation that declare all slaves “forever free” from January 1st, 1863 onward. Of course this was not the end of black persecution. In fact, slavery was not officially ended until October of 1865 with the addition of the 13th amendment to the constitution. King reminds us that even today, 100 years later, the black American lives under alienation and segregation. He metaphorically places the Negro on an island of poverty amidst the seas of wealth and justice that America has to offer.
With the history of the black plight in mind, King leads us into his empowering purpose for presenting this argument. He brings the Constitution and backbone of our nation into play and tells that his people are come to “cash a check.” The check is written for the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness that all men are entitled to under our Constitution and Declaration of Independence. Yet he tells that instead of being granted their rightful earnings as American citizens, the Negro people are given back a check marked insufficient. King tells that his purpose is to bring to pass the time where his people will be able to cash this check, and that time for them is now! Furthermore, he instills determination in the hearts of his brethren with words of fellowship and encouragement. His goal is to instill brotherhood and a sense of urgency unto everyone that today is our day. He announces that there will be no turning back and no giving up until they reach the peak of the hill which ends their summer of discontent and brings on an autumn of tranquility.
As King concludes his purpose he begins to paint a vivid picture in our eyes. His famous words, “I have a dream,” lead us into imaginary landscaped ...