I Have a Dream Speech Transcript – Martin Luther King - transcription powered by Happy Scribe

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Well, be. At this time, I held the honor to present to you the moral leader of our nation. I had the pleasure to present to you Dr. Martin Luther King. I'm happy to, John, with you today and Rob Lowe go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation. 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.

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It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of bad 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.

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One hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself in exile in his own land. And so we've come here today dramatize a shameful condition. In a sense, we've come to our nation's capital to cash a check. The architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution, then the Declaration of Independence. They were signing a promissory note with the average American was to fall out. This note was a promise that all men yes, black men as well as white men would be guaranteed beyond any reasonable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

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It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check back, which has comeback marked insufficient far. We refuse to believe that the Bank of Justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe the Valdai insufficient funds in the Great Hall of Opportunity of this nation. So we've come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.

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We have also come to this house 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 make real the promises of democracy. 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 lift our nation from the quick sands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood.

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Now is the power.

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To make justice a reality for all of God's children, it would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negroes, legitimate discontent will not pass until that is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. 1963 is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now become tent will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual.

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There will be neither rest, not tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds a revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges. But that 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 wrong. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.

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We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protests to degenerate into physical violence a game, not a game. We must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul for the marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people. For many of our Wright brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny.

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They have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone. And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back now. Those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, when will you be satisfied? We can never be satisfied as long as a Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motel to the highways and the hotels of the cities.

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We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro's basic mobility is from a small ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as that children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating for whites only. We cannot 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.

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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'm not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from our jail cell. Some of you have come from areas where your quest quest for freedom, lest 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.

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Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, 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 friend. So even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

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I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up, live out the true meaning of its creed. We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created.

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I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners, will they 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.

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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 in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of the position and nullification one day, right? Bad in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys.

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And white girls has sisters and brothers. I have a dream.

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I have a dream that one day every ballot 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 power of the Lord should be revealed and all flesh shall see it together. This is our hope. This is a faith that I go back to the south with. With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope.

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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. This will be the day when all gots to be able to sing with new meaning. My country, tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of the sing land where my fathers died.

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Land of the Pilgrim's Pride from every mountainside. Let freedom ring. For Americans to be a great nation. This must become true. And 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 slopes of California. But not only that, let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.

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Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee. Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside. Let freedom ring. And when this happens. When we allow 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 the 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.