50th Anniversary of MLK, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” Speech

Martin Luther King, Jr. delivering "I Have a Dream" at the 1963 Washington, D.C. Civil Rights March.

Martin Luther King, Jr. delivering “I Have a Dream” in 1963

Today marks the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, delivered from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. on August 28, 1963 to a packed crowd. King’s speech was part of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in support of President John F. Kennedy’s proposed civil rights legislation. King began the speech by recalling the words of President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation and asserting that Lincoln’s proposed ideals of racial equality had not yet been realized due in part to the restraints of segregation. The most famous part of the speech, in which he expounds upon the refrain of “I have a dream,” calls for a brighter future in which true equality might be found. Watch the speech in its entirety below.

Though he was the public face of the Civil Rights Movement, Martin Luther King, Jr. was not the only great man surging the movement forward in pursuit of equality and justice. One of the men working alongside King was civil rights lawyer Fred D. Gray. As King led the movement in the public sphere, Gray led the way in establishing legal footholds and precedents for civil rights legislation.

Fred D. Gray, Civil Rights Lawyer and Activist

Fred D. Gray, Civil Rights Lawyer and Activist

At the age of 24, Gray was the lawyer for Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Montgomery Improvement Association, the organization behind the 382-day Montgomery Bus Boycott. Led by a passion to destroy “everything segregated that [he] could find,” Gray continued to take on landmark civil rights cases throughout his impressive career, including those concerned with voting rights, education, housing, employment, law enforcement, and jury selection.

BusRideJustice_RevisedEdGray has documented these extraordinary experiences in his autobiography Bus Ride to Justice: The Life and Works of Fred Graywhich was called “A valuable record of the ground-level struggle for civil rights.” by The New York Times Book Review, “A lively account of how one man made a difference in the South.” by The Commercial Appeal, and “A valuable firsthand chronicle, an instructive legal casebook, and a stirring personal story.” by Publisher’s Weekly. As King’s speech promoted taking inspiration from the past in working toward a more equal future, so can we learn from the pursuits of Gray and his peers when considering the struggles that have yet to be won.


One thought on “50th Anniversary of MLK, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” Speech

  1. On this 50th anniversary of the March on Washington we can continue the work of desegregation by desegregating our voting (Party Lines). WE have to make the change and not point fingers at the White House or the people on the hill or anyone . Some voters say they don’t feel represented and I beg to differ. People who vote straight tickets can point the finger at themselves instead of whining that Republicans or Democrats won’t bend on this or that issue. If we don’t negotiate they don’t negotiate. They do what is called on by the people in order to try and stay in office. Sometimes our presidents make remarks and chastise the other side and we cheer and we love it… Snap out of it people. This is a distraction an instant though brief comfort at times. A way to get people off the fact that there’s nothing that can be done by any President to really help until we truly desegregate our voting. In this sense they represent the voters perfectly.
    Who goes to a buffet and only gets one thing? We may know one issue or the stance of one person or just one person and everyone else on the ticket gets a free ride. If we want the parties to come out of grid lock then YOU come out of grid lock. If we don’t like extremist on the hill then we should stop being extreme. It’s not hard to see the correlation when you point it out. WE still have the right and the need to pick and choose the best of any party. Desegregate your vote. Be in control and action oriented by making the time to find the best person for the job regardless of party or continue in the segregated mindset of choosing just one party so that you avoid the work of an educated decision and time will be made for you in pay cuts, layoffs and sequestration.

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