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August 28, 1963 --
[AUTHENTICITY CERTIFIED: Text version below transcribed
directly from audio.]
I am happy to
join with you today in what will go down in history as the
greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our
years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we
stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This
momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to
millions of Negro slaves, who had been seared in the flames
of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end
the long night of their captivity.
hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One
hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly
crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of
discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on
a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of
material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is
still languished in the corners of American society and
finds himself an exile in his own land. And so we've come
here today to dramatize a shameful condition.
In a sense we
have come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the
architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of
the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they
were signing a promissory note to which every American was
to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes,
black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the
unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of
happiness. It is obvious today that America has defaulted on
this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are
concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation,
America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check
which has come back marked "insufficient funds."
But we refuse
to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse
to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great
vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so we have come to
cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the
riches of freedom and the security of justice.
We have also
come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce
urgency of Now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of
cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism.
Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now
is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of
segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the
time to lift our nation from the quick sands of racial
injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time
to make justice a reality for all of God's children.
The Freeman Institute
Black History Collection
It would be
fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment.
This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent
will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of
freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end but
a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow
off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening
if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be
neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is
granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt
will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until
the bright day of justice emerges.
But there is
something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm
threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the
process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty
of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for
freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.
We must ever conduct our struggle on the high plane of
dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative
protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and
again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting
physical force with soul force.
new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must
not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of
our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here
today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up
with our destiny. And they have come to realize that their
freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk
And as we
walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march
ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking
the devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?"
We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim
of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never
be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue
of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways
and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long
as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New
York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we
are not satisfied and we will not be satisfied until justice
rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty
I am not
unmindful that some of you have come here out of great
trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from
narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where
your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of
persecutions and staggered by the winds of police brutality.
You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue
to work with the faith that unearned suffering is
redemptive. Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go
back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to
Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern
cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be
changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say
to you today, my friends. And 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
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 down
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!
I have a dream
that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill
and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be
made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight,
and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh
shall see it together.
This is our hope. This is the faith that I will go back to
the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out
of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith
we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our
nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this
faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to
struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for
freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.
And this will be the day, this will be the day when all of
God's children will be able to sing with new meaning, "My
country 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing.
Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrim's pride,
from every mountainside, let freedom ring!" And if America
is to be a great nation, this must become true.
And so let freedom ring -- from the
prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire.
Let freedom ring -- from the mighty
mountains of New York.
Let freedom ring -- from the heightening
Let freedom ring -- from the snow-capped
Rockies of Colorado.
Let freedom ring -- from the curvaceous
slopes of California.
But not only that.
Let freedom ring -- from Stone Mountain of
Let freedom ring -- from Lookout Mountain of
Let freedom ring -- from every hill and
molehill of Mississippi,
from every mountainside, let freedom ring!
And when this
happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring
from every village and every hamlet, from every state and
every city, we will be able to speed up that day when
all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews
and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to
join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual,
"Free at last, free at last.
Thank God Almighty, we are free at
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Fox News Channel segment about the
Black History Collection showcased at
"Transatlantic Slave Trade" exhibit (NY) ***************************************************************
Rosetta Stone Replica
Latest Book ***********************************************************
Dr. Freeman discussing a painting from his
collection at a
US Department of Justice Black History Month event (click on photo above for more info about painting)
A photo of the huge area in the main
hall near the United Nations visitor's entrance
at the United Nation's "Transatlantic Slave Trade" exhibit in NYC
(16 March - 30 April, 2011).
20 documents & artifacts from The Freeman Institute Black
History Collection were showcased.
More items from the Collection are exhibited behind the walls.
Dr. Freeman at the United Nations
"Transatlantic Slave Trade" Exhibit.
Twenty documents & artifacts from The Freeman Institute Black History