9 Things about Martin Luther King Jr’s speech

9 things about MLK’s speech and the March on Washington

By Jim Polk and Alicia Stewart, CNN
updated 1:50 PM EDT, Wed August 28, 2013
The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. addresses a crowd near the Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on August 28, 1963. On the 50th anniversary of this historic civil rights event, we take a look back through rarely-seen color photographs from the day. The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. addresses a crowd near the Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on August 28, 1963. On the 50th anniversary of this historic civil rights event, we take a look back through rarely-seen color photographs from the day.
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Color photos from 1963 March on Washington
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • King almost didn’t talk about “the dream”
  • Women had to fight to be included on the speakers’ platform
  • Having Hollywood stars attend helped ease Kennedy fears about march

Watch CNN TV for special coverage throughout the day, including live coverage of President Obama’s address at the Lincoln Memorial, marking the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

(CNN) — “I have a dream this afternoon that my four little children will not come up in the same young days that I came up within, but they will be judged on the basis of the content of their character, not the color of their skin.”

The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke these words in 1963, but this was not the speech that would go down as one of the most important addresses in U.S. history.

King spoke these words in Detroit, two months before he addressed a crowd of nearly 250,000 with his resounding “I Have a Dream” speech at the March on Washington for Freedom and Jobs on August 28, 1963.

Several of King’s staff members actually tried to discourage him from using the same “I have a dream” refrain again.

10 signposts on America’s race journey

‘I Have a Dream’ speech turns 50

The state of MLK’s ‘dream’

She dozed off during MLK’s speech

March on Washington 50 years later

As we all know, that didn’t happen. But how this pivotal speech was crafted is just one of several interesting facts about what is one of the most important moments in the 20th century in the United States:

MLK’s speech almost didn’t include “I have a dream”

King had suggested the familiar “Dream” speech that he used in Detroit for his address at the march, but his adviser the Rev. Wyatt Tee Walker called it “hackneyed and trite.”

So, the night before the march, King’s staff crafted a new speech, “Normalcy Never Again.”

King was the last speaker to address the crowd in Washington that day. As he spoke, gospel singer Mahalia Jackson called out to King, “Tell ’em about the dream, Martin.”

Then he paused and said, “I still have a dream.”

Walker was out in the audience. “I said, ‘Oh, s—.'”

“I thought it was a mistake to use that,” Walker recalled. “But how wrong I was. It had never been used on a world stage before.”

The rest, of course, is history.

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