I have a Dream.

Address at March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom
August 28, 1963 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

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.
It came as a joyous daybreak toend 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 manacle 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 languished
in the corners of American society and finds himself an
exile in his own land.
So we've come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.
In a sense we have come toour 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 a promise that all men,
yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the
inalienable 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.

So we have come to cash this check, a check that will give us
upon demand the riches offreedom 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 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 pathof 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

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 aninvigorating autumn of freedom
and equality.

Nineteen sixty-three is not an end but a beginning.
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

But there 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 wrongful deeds.

Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking
from the cup of bitterness and hatred.

We must ever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity
and discipline.

We must not allow our creative protest 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.

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

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 a Negro in Mississippi
cannot vote and a Negro in NewYork 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

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 thestorms of persecutions 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
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, that 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 the
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 heatof 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 down
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 made 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 will 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

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 of God's
children will be able to sing with new meaning "My country
'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing.
Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrim's pride,
from every mountainside, let freedom ring!"

And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true.
And so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New

Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York.
Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of
Let freedom ring from the snow-capped 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, when we allow freedom to ring, when we
let it ring from every tenement 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."