I Have a Dream – Summary | The Heritage of Words

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I Have a DreamUnit Five : Human Rights
I Have a Dream – Martin Luther King, Jr.
The Heritage of Words

Martin Luther King, a black civil right campaigner, delivered an unforgettable speech ” I Have a Dream” on August 28, 1963 commemorating the centennial of Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. In this speech he presses for equal treatment and improved circumstances for blacks, and stresses on the necessity of eradicating institutional racial inequalities. King expresses sharp dissatisfaction over segregation and racial discrimination. He demands a fast end to racial discrimination, pledging his followers to a fight to the finish to wipe out all forms of segregation and to achieve equality and integration. However, he is in favour of creative and disciplined protest without physical violence. In his speech he even appeals the Whites to join hands with Blacks in order to revolt against discriminatory practices against Blacks. He does not show hatred against Whites, he is against color discrimination and racial prejudice.

He is a dreamer with the vision of equality and justice. He wants a new America in its social makeup, establish symphony of brotherhood among blacks and whites, and eradicate the discriminatory treatment of black Americans. His dream is deeply rooted in the American dream of ‘life, liberty and pursuit of happiness’.

He voices that even after hundred years of passing of Emancipation Proclamation by Lincoln, America stands as the hell to the blacks. Blacks are exiled in their own country and live in poverty in the vast ocean of material prosperity.

He also mentions the words of the Constitution and Declaration of Independence which guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. But these magnificent words were not applied into practice in case of colored citizens. He demands the riches of freedom, security of justice, and citizenship rights to the blacks. He argues that the policy of gradualism in the matter of justice will raise discontent among blacks.

Important Questions :

1. What is the apparent (exact) purpose of the speech of Martin Luther King Jr.? Explain King’s analogy of bad check (cheque).
Ans. The apparent purpose of King’s speech is to get the black people their rights of freedom, equality and justice avoiding racial injustice based on color of skin. Although the constitution of America promises equal rights to its entire citizen, the black people have been deprived from enjoying the rights and get the victim of social segregation and discrimination. Therefore Martin Luther King Jr. Delivers this speech demanding justice for the black people. King makes an analogy (comparison) between promises of an American constitution and a bad check. Though the constitution of America promises equal right rights to the entire citizen irrespective of colour and creed, America has failed to pay her black citizen the rights promised in the constitution. They are given bad check i.e. false promises by architects of American constitution. If there is insufficient amount in the bank out, the cheque of higher amount issued against this account is not enchased and returned unpaid such cheque is consider as a bad check. Similar way although the constitution of America guarantees the equality for all, the black citizens are turned down from getting justice in America. Therefore, king compares the promises made by the American constitution with a bad check.

Questions for Practice :

  1. What is the real dream of Martin Luther King about the future of America?
  2. What is Martin Luther complaining about?
  3. What is the dream Martin Luther King, Jr. has? How is he going to achieve it?

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