On August 28, 1963 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights leaders in “The Big Six”, marched on Washington D.C. for “Jobs and Freedom”. Roy Wilkins from the NAACP, Whitney Young, National Urban League; A. Philip Randolph, Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters; John Lewis, SNCC; James L. Farmer, Jr. of the Congress of Racial Equality; and Bayard Rustin, strategist; stood with Dr. King. President John F. Kennedy had initially opposed the march thinking it might negatively impact the passage of the civil rights legislation but the march proceeded. King and others demanded an end to racial segregation in public schools, meaningful civil rights legislation, a law prohibiting racial discrimination in employment, protection of civil rights workers from police brutality, a $2 minimum wage for all workers, and self-government for Washington, D.C. (then governed by congressional committee). At that time, African Americans continued to experience harsh economic and political repression and discrimination. Even interracial marriages were barred in 21 states. Dr. King gave his renowned 17 minute “I Have a Dream” speech while standing in front of the Lincoln Memorial. The speech’s most well known passage in which he departed from prepared text, was likely inspired by Mahalia Jackson, who prompted him, “Tell them about the dream!”…
“… I say to you today, my friends so 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 heat of 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 there 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…”
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.