Dr martin luther king jr i have a dream speech essay

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News Detail

Martin Luther King Jr. Day – Student Essays

Read the four student essays selected to be a part of Monday’s all school presentation honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.:
Khalid Blount – 6th
Victoria Koehler – 9th
Gavin Berry -12th
Rosalie Haizlett -9th
Here are the four student essays selected to be a part of Monday’s all school presentation honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.:

Being an African American male and growing up in an upper middle class family, I take Dr. King’s words to heart. My schooling was predominantly private and as a result I was a minority. When I spoke, and my grammar was correct, and my pants were above my waist, and nice clothes on my back, I was told by students that I’m not “Black.” My question always was: What classifies someone as “Black” or “White?”  “I have a dream that one day we can live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” I believe skin color plays too big of a role in our society today, and that noe one should be defined or judged by simply their skin color.

–Gavin Berry, Grade 12

Martin Luther King, Jr.’s message was to get people to believe in America and also to try to get equal rights for everyone. Mr. King knew that getting equal rights was not going to be easy. He believed that one day this country would come together so that black children and white children would be able to join schools without being sprayed with hoses. He also believed that people should not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. There were many ups and downs for Mr. King, like his dad standing at the door with a shotgun while watching the Ku Klux Klan marching down the street, or watching an innocent black man being lynched. Mr. King persevered and came through all of that segregation. He is a great role model for people today.

–Khalid Blount, Grade 6

In his passionate speech, “I Have a Dream,” Martin Luther King, Jr. states, “…we’ll be transformed into a situation where little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls and walk together as sisters and brothers.” When I read this statement, an image of a black hand and a white hand brought together in confidence comes to mind. Imagine the world when two innocent children were told that the color of their skin ought to separate them. Martin Luther King, Jr. bridges that gap of inequality in our society, but even now some people continue to discriminate against many races. This quote is moving to me because his dream is timeless and still affects people 46 years later.
–Victoria Koehler, Grade 9

This is our hope. This is the faith…
This paragraph impacts my life because it reminds me that if I want a change to be made, I must do something about it. If I want The Linsly School to be a wonderful, caring environment, then I need to be caring toward others. We can’t simply point out the faults in our family, school, community or nation. Instead, we must do everything within our power to make changes for the better. Martin Luther King, Jr. told the crowd to return to their states and communities with the mindset that they had the power to make a difference. If we adopt this mindset, we too will be able to reach our goals.

–Rosalie Haizlett, Grade 9


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The woman who inspired Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech


Emily Crockett @emilycrockett





The woman who inspired Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech







Mahalia Jackson.
Wikimedia Commons

Without Mahalia Jackson, Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech might never have happened.

Jackson, known as the Queen of Gospel, was a musical legend who helped bring gospel from church to mass audiences. She mentored Aretha Franklin and Della Reese, and in 1961 was the first gospel singer to win a Grammy. She was also instrumental to the civil rights movement, especially as a good friend of King’s.

Shortly after meeting King at the National Baptist Convention in 1956, Jackson agreed to sing at a fundraising rally for the Montgomery bus boycott. After that, she frequently accompanied King to perform at rallies and events. Her voice became “the soundtrack of the civil rights movement,” as NPR’s Sonari Glinton put it.

Jackson was devoted to King, and accompanied him into the most hostile parts of the segregated South for rallies and demonstrations. Even in moments when King felt discouraged, he would call Jackson on the phone just to hear her sing.

This bond of mutual inspiration and respect between King and Jackson came at a pivotal moment during the 1963 March on Washington.

“Tell them about the dream, Martin! Tell them about the dream!”

King had struggled with his speech, which was supposed to be kept to five minutes. His advisers argued over which themes he should include. King himself was torn between two metaphors he liked, figuring he only had time for one.

There was the image of a “bad check,” representing America’s failure to deliver on her promises of freedom to her black citizens. And then there was the idea of King’s “dream” for a nation undivided by racial tensions, which he had used in speeches throughout the previous year in cities like Detroit and Birmingham, Alabama. Check out the Detroit version of the speech here — it has a lot in common with the much more famous March on Washington version, but the rhetoric is a bit less soaring and the grievances a bit more specific.

King originally thought the speech should be lower-key , since he was speaking to a broad audience about controversial themes. So the “bad check” image won out — at least in the original printed version of the speech, which doesn’t even mention the word “dream.” (Can you imagine generations of schoolchildren being taught about MLK’s “Insufficient Funds” speech?)

But during delivery, King started improvising a bit when he reached a sentence that felt clunky. Instead of calling on the crowd to “go back to our communities as members of the international association for the advancement of creative dissatisfaction,” he went with: “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.”

It was at that moment, says King’s adviser Clarence Jones, that Mahalia Jackson cried out: “Tell them about the dream, Martin! Tell them about the dream!”

It was, Jones said, “one of the world’s greatest gospel singers shouting out to one of the world’s greatest Baptist preachers.” Jones, who was standing about 50 feet away from King during the speech, recalled that King looked over at Jackson briefly after she shouted. “Then he takes the text of the written speech that’s been prepared, and he slides it to the left side of the lectern, grabs the lectern, looks out on more than 250,000 people there assembled.” Jones remembers turning to the person next to him and saying, “These people out there, they don’t know it, but they’re about ready to go to church.”

Then King started speaking completely off the cuff. That ad-lib became “I Have a Dream.”

Jones isn’t sure, but he thinks Jackson must have heard one of King’s earlier versions of the “dream” speech, and that she knew the moment called for it. Jones said when Jackson called out to King it was like a “mandate to respond,” and King’s body language transformed from lecturer to preacher. “I have never seen him speak the way I saw him on that day,” Jones said. “It was as if some cosmic transcendental force came down and occupied his body. It was the same body, the same voice, but the voice had something I had never heard before.”

It’s no wonder Jackson was King’s favorite gospel singer, and that he would be so inspired by her at just the right time. Here’s Jackson singing “I Been ‘Buked and I Been Scorned” at the March on Washington right before King spoke. She would have had her place in civil rights history with this performance even without what came next.

For more on other amazing women entertainers and activists who shaped the March on Washington and the civil rights movement, check out this great slideshow from the Root.

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