May 26, 2021

Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have A Dream" Speech

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at the Lincoln Memorial after delivering his I Have A Dream speech during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom for the Educator Podcast: Walking History
Dive into the history and words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s iconic “I Have A Dream” speech, which he gave on August 28, 1963 in front of a crowd of 250,000 people at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.  Stick around to the end of the episode to discover what it’s like to visit the location of this incredible moment in American history today.

Want to jump ahead in this episode?

Summary: 4:00
Interesting Facts: 5:55 
Background of the Speech: 7:45
The Speech: 27:20
Aftermath of the Speech: 40:00
Visiting Today: 46:00


Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech has earned its place as one of the most influential speeches in American history, alongside such iconic orations as Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, and helped solidify King as the unofficial face of the Civil Rights movement in America and one of the greatest leaders of a nonviolent movement in history. In the speech, King combined raw, emotional power with artful eloquence, commanding the moral high ground on the issues of civil rights and economic equality while seamlessly painting a painfully clear but accurate depiction of the oppression African Americans had and continued to face and the need for circumstances to drastically change. He did this masterfully, in a way that was relatable not just to the African Americans in the US who had experienced it first hand for centuries, but for the many whites who were willing to listen but had only witnessed it as outsiders.

Martin Luther King Jr’s speech helped invigorate the Civil Rights movement and was instrumental in creating the public and political will necessary to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the two most significant pieces of legislation of the Civil Rights era. His words, which rise and fall like a symphony, finally crescendoing with the depiction of his infamous dream, have been immortalized in the American consciousness, taught in classrooms across the United States and the world for decades, and inspired countless activists to uphold his legacy to fight for justice, equality, freedom and democracy. 

This episode discusses the speech itself, the buildup to it, including how the March on Washington came to be, and the incredibly significant aftermath, which help vault King to international renown and was crucial to the passing of the most significant civil rights legislation of the 20th century.

Are you a fan of interesting facts? Listen to discover how the speech had been given very little attention until the day before he gave it, how without singer Mahalia Jackson the iconic “I have a dream” refrain may have never happened, and much more. 

Useful Links:

"I Have A Dream" Speech video - YouTube
"I Have A Dream" Speech audio - NPR
The "I Have A Dream" Marker at the Lincoln Memorial -
The March On Washington -