Today marks the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Junior’s “I Have A Dream” speech. Delivered at the base of the Lincoln Memorial on August 28th, 1963 during the "March on Washington," the speech is considered one of the defining moments of the Civil Rights movement and one of the most famous speeches in history. 

President Obama, former Presidents Clinton and CarterOprah WinfreyJamie Foxxand Forest Whitaker are all expected to be in D.C. today to celebrate the anniversary at the Lincoln Memorial, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

According to the UK Telegraph, here are some little known facts about the speech:

  • The speech is known as “I Have a Dream” but those words were never in the original draft, they were ad libbed on the day.
  • It lasts 17 minutes and is widely considered to have been drafted in New York and then in Washington in the hours before the rally.     
  • As a result of the speech, Dr King was named Man of the Year by Time Magazine in 1963, and won the Nobel Peace Prize the following year.
  • It was ranked the top speech of the 20th Century by a poll of academics.      
  • It is said to have had several names and drafts, including “The Normalcy Speech” and “A Cancelled check”.

What the Telegraph fails to note is the day after the speech, the head of the FBI’s covert COINTELPRO project wrote of Dr. King, "We must mark him now, if we have not done so before, as the most dangerous Negro of the future in this Nation from the standpoint of communism, the Negro and national security.”

Here's an excerpt from the speech:

“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 slaveowners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood. I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a desert state, sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice. I have a dream that my four 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.”

MY 2 CENTS:

  • Do you remember the first time you heard the “I Have A Dream” speech? How did it affect you?
  • Do you consider it to be the greatest speech you’ve heard? If not, what is?
  • Do you think Dr. King’s dream has been realized? If not, how much further is there to go?
  • If you could hear one person give Dr. King’s speech today, who would it be?
  • Are you surprised to learn that the government considered Dr. King a threat to national security?