On August 28, 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his infamous “I Have a Dream” speech that forever changed America’s perception of the black people. Up until then, the blacks were segregated in almost every aspect of life and had very few rights. It can be said today, some 35 years after his death that King was truly one of the greatest black activists in history who helped shape the lives of every black person in America. This speech by King was the pinnacle moment of his movement. He was already well-known by the whole country before this speech for his involvement with racial discrimination. His beginning as a national figure began when he was named president of the Montgomery Improvement Association, an organization that directed a bus boycott. The black people were not happy that they had to give up their seats to white
people, prompting the bus boycott. After taking this issue to court in 1956, the Supreme Court upheld a lower court decision, which ordered that buses needed to be desegregated.
King also helped found the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1957, a group aimed at ending racial segregation. He was in charge of leading marches, boycotts, and demonstrations. Through this, he was also able to make strategic alliances with whites that later helped him influence the public opinion in the United States. It is very clear, through his actions and involvement, that King was a very informed man who had more than enough expertise and credibility to give this speech to over 200,000 people.
This speech was directed to every person in the United States. It was geared mostly towards the white population which did not treat the black population with respect. To the black people, King told them to fight this struggle with dignity and discipline. He did not want them to use violence in order to get their point across. By looking at the large audience of white people in the crowd, King realized that progress was already being made. He urged the blacks to “trust their white brothers” who have seen that all men deserve the same amount of respect, no matter what their skin color may be.
The white population was given a different message. King said that the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence was a promise note to all men that they would be guaranteed the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. White America, until now, had not followed through on this promise note. King compared this promise note to the blacks as a bank check which was returned due to “insufficient funds.” He said, “We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation.” The time was now to cash this check. The black oppressors needed to realize that the black people had the same rights as the white people.
King’s dream, from the speech, was to see a united country. He wanted to see this nation live up to its creed that all men are created equal, where the “sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave-owners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood.” Ultimately, King wanted to see a free country for all, free from any segregation or oppression towards the black population.
Until all people were treated equally, King, and the rest of the blacks, could never be satisfied. By having slavery completely abolished, removing segregation, and giving voting to all citizens of the country, King would become a very happy satisfied man. Three decades later, we can more clearly see the great impact that this speech had on all of America. Black people have never had more rights than they do today. Slavery and segregation has been removed. Also, black people have been given the permission to vote. Blacks have just as many rights as whites do now. With all this said, the racial discrimination problem has not been completely solved. However, there still remains racial discrimination in many aspects of life. Typically, a white person will make more money than a black person for the same job. Also, more often than not, a white person will most likely get a job over a black person. Recently in the NFL, a rule had to be made that every time there is a head coaching position, the teams have to interview at least one black candidate. Black people are considered to not be as smart as white people who are why the discrimination still exists. Currently, there are only one or two black head coaches in the NFL out of 30, a very low and unfair number. Overall, King would be happy with the progress that has been made as a result of his speech, but would feel that there is still a ways to go. If it was not for that speech, the blacks might have been in the same situation today as they were back then. This speech has been priceless in terms of uniting this great country of ours.