February 5th, 2018 by Goshen Public Library Leave a reply »

Martin Luther King, Jr. improvised the most iconic part of his “I Have a Dream” speech.  On Wednesday, August 28,1963, 250,000 Americans united at the Lincoln Memorial for the final speech of the March on Washington.  As Martin Luther King, Jr. stood at the podium, he eventually pushed his notes aside.

The night before the March, Dr. King began working on his speech with a small group of advisers in the lobby of the Willard Hotel.  The original speech was more political & less historic, according to Clarence B. Jones, & it did not include any reference to dreams.  After delivering the now famous line, ” we are not satisfied, & we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters & righteousness like a mighty stream”, Dr. King transformed his speech into a sermon.

Onstage near Dr. King, singer Mahalia Jackson reportedly kept saying, “Tell ’em about the dream, Martin”, & while no one knew if he heard her, it could likely have been the inspiration he needed.  Dr. King then continued, “Even though we face the difficulties of today & tomorrow, I still have a dream.  It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream…”. And then the famous Baptist preacher preached on, adding repetition & outlining the specifics of his dream.  While this improvised speech given on that hot August day in 1963 was not considered a universal success immediately, it is now recognized as one of the greatest speeches in American history.


Comments are closed.