Online version at: http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/mlkihaveadream.htm
Online Video of Speech found at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HRIF4_WzU1w
Extra: King’s last speech I’ve Been to the Mountain Top at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oehry1JC9Rk
Song about Martin Luther King Jr. Found at http://www.flocabulary.com/civil-rights/
Essential Question: Can one person change the world?
Common Core Standards: RI.4 Analyze the cumulative impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone RI.6 Determine an author’s point of view or purpose in a text and analyze how an author uses rhetoric to advance that point of view or purpose. RI.8 Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text RI. 9 Analyze seminal U.S. documents of historical and literary significance
Introduction: There has always been, and hopefully always will be, people how want to make the world a better place. Their dream or vision is communicated in powerful words – that that will motivate others to find way to improve the world and the lives of others as well. In the speech you are about to read, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. eloquently shares his vision for the future, and for making the world a better place for us all. He does so in a way that is so powerful and so compelling that many people were convinced to think differently about the world and their place in it.
Make the Connection: What is your vision for a better world? Does it involve less poverty? Safer communities? Better schools and job opportunities? More emphasis on the taking care of the environment? Write a paragraph describing your vision of how to change one aspect of the world.
Analyzing the Text: In an argument, a writer or speaker takes a position on an issue and provides support for the position by appealing strictly to reason. Their position is also called a claim, which is a proposal or proposition. The support for the claim may be evidence or reason, or both – but this support should be credible, relevant to the claim, and of satisfactory quality to be convincing. In his speech “I Have a Dream,” Dr. King makes this claim about the position of African Americans:
But one hundred years later [after the Emancipation Proclamation], the Negro still is not free….
While reading his speech, look for this claim and the reasons and support he provides to support it.
Skills for Reading: Rhetorical Devices:When speakers want to persuade their audience, they typically do more than provide arguments. They usually will also use rhetorical devices such as these three:
An analogy is a point-by-point comparison of two subjects. It can help convey ideas that are hard to grasp, such as how a complex objects looks or functions
Repetition is the repeated use of the same word or phrase. It is utilized mostly for added emphasis.
Parallelism is the repeated use of similar grammatical structures, words, phrases, or sentences. It is used to demonstrate that ideas are related or equal in importance.
As you read, write down example of these three devices and explain their effects. Use a graphic organizer like the one below.
Word, Phrase, or Sentence
Type of Device
“one hundred years later…”
Emphasizes how long African American have been denied their rights
Vocabulary In Context: Dr. King chose the words below to inspire and motivate his audience. Use the context to figure out their meanings.
a momentous occasion
two evils inextricably joined
a legitimate excuse
miss payments and a default on a loan
turned from protest to militancy
About the Author
Martin Luther King Jr. (1929 – 1968)
A Champion for Justice – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. became a stimulus for social change in the 1950’s and 1960’s. He advocated a philosophy of nonviolence and spurred people of all races to join in boycotts, marches, and demonstrations against racial injustice that was widespread in America, especially in certain regions. His moral leadership stirred the conscious of the nation and helped bring about the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In the same year he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. King continued efforts for justice and quality until he was assassinated in 1968.
Inspiring Speaker- An eloquent Baptist minister from Atlanta, King was known for using religious references in his speeches. On the night before his death, he said to an audience in Memphis, Tennessee: “I’ve seen the Promise Land. I may not get there with you, but I want you to know tonight, that we as a people will get to the Promise Land.”
-Watch a T.V. news clip from 1968 describing the news immediately following the assassination @http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cmOBbxgxKvo
-Excerpt from the PBS documentary "1968: The Year that Shaped a Generation" recounts the last days of Martin Luther King and documents the fall-out from his assassination. Published onJan 18, 2013
A series of Interviews Dr. King @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9SfH2uMayks (Part 1)
Building Background to the Speech:In August 1963, thousands of Americans marched on Washington, D.C. to urge Congress to pass a civil rights bill. King gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial before more than 200,000 people.
March on Washington in Pictures: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jhuSyFHGes0
Short Documentary / News Coverage: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d7s30wFCqlw&list=PL_NCd2Qv0qjsTESDdPIHo039jq6FozIMl
Real World Context: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. continues to inspire and influence the world today. Watch President Obama's Address on 50th Anniversary of MLK 'I Have a Dream' Speech on August 28, 2013. President Obama discusses why King’s vision is still relevant today. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y0z87SKSyyw
You can read more about King’s relevancy today @ http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/aug/28/obama-martin-luther-king-50th-anniversary-celebrations
A lesson plan that includes a great rap song about Martin Luther King! Comes complete with lyrics, and challenge questions. Especially awesome for teaching vocabulary!!!
Barack Obama spoke on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, where Martin Luther King delivered his 'I have a dream' speech. Photograph: Jason Reed/Reuters
Close Read and After Reading Questions
A Close Read
I Have a Dream
By Martin Luther King Jr. 1968
August 28th, 1963: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivers his speech at the Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington D.C.
I am happy to join with you today in what will 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 momentousdecree 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 languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself in exile in his own land.
So we’ve come here today to dramatize a shameful condition. In a sense we’ve come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was the promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.” But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And 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.
We have also come to this hallowed 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 ofgradualism. 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 quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood; now is the time 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 Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality.
Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. And those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither
rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.
But there is something that I must say to my people, who stand on the worn threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plain of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protests to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. 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 white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. And 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.
There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “When will you be satisfied?” We can never be satisfied as long as the 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 motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities; we cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one; we can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating For Whites Only; we cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. 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 am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left 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. 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 friends, 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. 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, 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!
I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low. The rough places will be plain and the crooked places will be made straight, “and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.”
This is our hope. This is the 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. 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. And this will be the day. This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with new meaning, “My country ’tis of thee, sweet and of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrims’ pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.” And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true.
Public Announcement Encouraging People to Attend the March on Washington The New York Times front page, August 29th, 1968
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; 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, and when we allow freedom to 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 of God’s 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, we are free at last.”
Analyze Visuals: What impression do you get of Dr. King based on this photo?
Five score years ago; five score means “twenty”. (This phrasing recalls the beginning of Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address: “Four score and seven years ago…”
A document signed by President Lincoln in 1863, during the Civil War, declaring that all slaves in states at war with the Union were free.
Momentous (adj): of great importance
Analyzing Argument: Reread the bolded paragraph. What evidence does King provide to support the claim that “the Negro is still not free”? Is the evidence relevant and credible? Explain.
promissory note: a written promise to repay a loan
Default (verb): to fail to keep a promise, usually a promise to pay a loan.
Gradualism – a policy of seeking to reach a goal slowly, in gradual steps.
Legitimate (adj):justifiable, acceptable, valid
Analyzing Rhetorical Devices- Reread the bolded paragraph. What rhetorical device does King use, and what are the effects of using is?
Analyzing Visuals: What do these photographs from the March on Washington suggest about King’s effectiveness as an orator and a leader? Explain your answer and cite evidence from the photos to support your answer.
Militancy (noun): the act of aggressively supporting a political or social cause
Analyzing Argument: Identify the instances of racial injustice that King provides as strong, relevant, and credible evidence to sway audience members to adopt his views.
Common Core RI.4
Language: Formal Language
The formal language of public speeches differs from everyday language in many ways. First, it contains fewer contractions (such as I’m or you’ll). How could you revise the highlighted line to make it informal?
Analyzing Rhetorical Devices:
Reread the bolded paragraphs. What examples of parallel grammatical structures help make the expression ideas more memorable?
Common Core RI.9
Seminal U.S. Documents
The gray highlighted lines include Dr. King’s most recognizable and compelling words in support of the Civil Rights movement. He stresses repetitively that the dream of justice and equality can be fulfilled for all Americans. Why do you think these lines establish Dr. King’s speech as a major text in American history?
Governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification- Rejecting a federal order to desegregate the University of Alabama, Governor George Wallace claimed that the principle of nullification (a state’s alleged right to refuse a federal law) allowed him to resist federal “interposition,” or interference, in state affairs.
After Reading Questions
After Reading Questions
Common Core Standards:RI.6 Determine an author’s point of view or purpose in a text and analyze how an author uses rhetoric to advance that point of view or purpose. RI.8 Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text RI. 9 Analyze seminal U.S. documents of historical and literary significance W.9b (RI.9) Draw evidence from informational texts to support analysis of seminal U.S. documents of historical significance.
Recall: What instances of racial injustices does King present in his speech?
Clarify: What does King say will occur if justice is denied African Americans?
Summarize: What is King’s dream?
Analyzing the Argument: Using the graphic organizer below, list at list three reasons of racial injustice that King uses as support for his claim that African Americans are not free.
Comprehending Rhetorical Devices: Revise the chart you created as you read concerning rhetorical devices. Then identify an example of repetition or parallelism and explain its effect.
Comprehension of Analogy: Reread the lines below from Dr. King’s speech. In these paragraphs, King uses an analogy to compare a familiar object – a promissory note - to something abstract – the promise of equal rights. What does King mean when he says that America has given African American’s a bad check? Explain your answer.
So we’ve come here today to dramatize a shameful condition. In a sense we’ve come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir.
Analyze an Allusion: Reread the lines below from Dr. King’s speech. An allusion is an indirect reference, within a work, to something that the audience or speaker is expected to know. As King begins to explain his vision, he alludes to the Declaration of Independence, quoting its famous lines. How effective is this allusion? What is the intended effect? Explain your answer.
I say to you today, my friends, 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. 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.”
Enduring Understanding: Reread the essential question. Now that you have learned about King’s dream and vision and how it is still relevant and powerful today, so you think that one person’s dream can forever change the world? Explain your answer.
The Reading Writing Connection
Extended Constructed Response: Analysis
How do you account for the extraordinary acclaim that King’s speech received, not only when it was first delivered but many years later? Write three-to-five paragraph analysis of the effectiveness of King’s speech. Consider both the strength of its logic and its emotional power.
Reread your analysis paragraphs. Did you state the qualities that make the speech memorable? Did you provide relevant examples from the speech? If not, go back and add the qualities and examples to improve your writing.