Christian Long

Martin Luther King Jr.: I Have a Dream

In TED Talks on May 2, 2010 at 10:31 pm

Reflection by SHANNON L.

Original TED page w/ speaker bio, links, comments, etc:

Martin Luther King Jr.:  I Have a Dream

Why was there even a need for someone to make a speech about dreaming for equality?

It is hard to imagine that for decades, in fact centuries, that equality among people as we know it now was not even a dream. People were separated any so many ways not only by their economic status, but much more importantly, by the color of their skin. It was simply excepted for centuries that Black people would be treated differently. The slave trade from Africa contributed heavily to this unfortunate reality for centuries. This cultural distinction continued long after the United States was established.

Significant efforts started being made in the late 1950s and early 1960s in the United States to bring attention to how unequal the Negro race was being treated. The Negro community as a whole began standing up for itself regarding issues of discrimination. This included a lady named Rosa Parks, who refused to give up her seat to a white person on a bus, as well as marches, peaceful and not-so-peaceful. The most significant leader of this movement was, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Although many events took place in connection with the efforts to gain equality, the most famous demonstration took place on the mall in Washington D.C., in the summer of 1963. Over two hundred thousand people participated in an event that would include one of the most famous speeches in history. This speech was known as “I Have a Dream”, and was given by Dr. King.

This speech was about equality and what Dr. King and many others felt that equality should represent. For example he stated that he had a dream that one day children of all races would play together, that there would be no segregation, and that America would live up to its constitution that “all men are created equal.” It is important to note that Dr. King, in leading such a significant movement on a crucial issue in American culture, always wanted changes to be made in a peaceful manner. Much violence took place regarding the Civil Rights Movement, but Dr. King always insisted on peaceful activity. Not all members of the Negro Community were willing to be as patient and peaceful as Dr. King, and certainly a large group of White America was violently resisting the changes towards equality. This speech is one of the activities that led to the granting of the rights requested by those in this movement.

Dr. King’s speech is as famous for what he said as well as how he said it. He was expressing the hopes and thoughts of not just the hundreds of thousands on the mall that day, but millions of others across the country. He knew that many people across the United States would be listening, so Dr. King chose his words carefully, but little did he know that almost fifty years later that the general words would be known by almost every American. Because of his strong emotion and passion for this movement Dr. King was able to give a speech that did not only last for those eighteen minutes but for a lifetime.

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