57 years ago today, Martin Luther King, Jr., delivered “I Have a Dream”, one of the best known speeches in U.S. history, second only to Lincoln’s 1863 “Gettysburg Address”.
On the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., the African American civil rights movement reaches its high-water mark when Martin Luther King, Jr., speaks to about 250,000 people attending the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. The demonstrators—black and white, poor & rich—came together to demand voting rights and equal opportunity for African Americans and to appeal for an end to racial segregation and discrimination.
With the statue of Abraham Lincoln—the Great Emancipator—towering behind him, King used the rhetorical talents he had developed as a Baptist preacher to show how, as he put it, the “Negro is still not free”. He told of the struggle ahead, stressing the importance of continued action and nonviolent protest.
In the year after the March on Washington, the civil rights movement achieved two of its greatest successes: the ratification of the 24th Amendment to the Constitution, which abolished the poll tax and thus a barrier to poor African American voters in the South; and the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibited racial segregation in public facilities.
In October 1964, Martin Luther King, Jr., was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. On 4 April 1968, he was shot to death while standing on a motel balcony in Memphis, Tennessee—he was 39 years old.
Text via History.
Featured image via Brittanica.
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