“I have a dream” is the recorded speech delivered on August 28, 1963 by Martin Luther King. Jr. at Lincoln Memorial to celebrate the centennial of Lincoln’s “Emancipation Proclamation” freeing the slaves. King says that a century ago the ‘Proclamation’ had come as the light of hope for the millions of Negro Slaves living in the darkness of injustice and sadly crippled by the handcuffs of segregation. But the sad fact is that even after one hundred years, the black population is still living under the misery of racial injustice, poverty and is still living as refuges in their own country.
Then he compares the “Emancipation Proclamation” and the “Constitution of United States” with a bad check which couldn’t be encashed though there was enough fund in the bank of Justice. This means that even though the Negroes were promised equal rights, equal opportunity, and freedom but government has failed to keep its promise. The Negros are still the victims of racial injustice. He says that it is a time to convert discrimination and injustice to a strong land of trust and brotherhood. He also warns that it would be dangerous for the nation to ignore the united voice of the Negroes. There would be no justice in America unless justice is done to the suffering Negroes. America would be rocked by revolt until the black population get their rights.
Then he goes on to appeal to the Negroes not to take part in the violence and injustice to get their civil rights. He tells them to hate the wrong deeds. He again tells them that it is very important for them to get the support of the white community and posed the new non-violence resistance adopted by the Negroes to fight against injustice. He says that they will not be satisfied until a tired Negro can rest in the motels and hotels they want to rest and until a Negro in Mississippi can vote and the real promise of the proclamation is fulfilled.
King is quite aware of the torture and suffering of the freedom fighters in the hands of the white and the police. He knows that it is difficult but tells his people not to lose their hope. He tells them to go to different parts of the country and continue their struggle with hope that justice will be restored. He says that in the middle of these difficulties and frustration he has a dream of freedom and harmony which is deeply rooted in the American dream.
His dream is that some day injustice would vanish and justice would be the way of life in America. America would be free from social discrimination and people wouldn’t be judged by their colour but according to the content of their character.
Finally, he concludes his highly poetic and moving speech by saying that America can become a powerful nation only if all its people are united in the frame of brotherhood, only if freedom sings in each and every corner of the country. America can become a dreamland only when Black and White, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics are able to join hands and sing together, the song of freedom.
Important questions and answers:
1. What is the apparent purpose of this speech?
Ans: Martin Luther King has given an unforgettable speech to the black people of America. The apparent purposes of this speech is to avoid poverty, injustice, racial and color discrimination, exploitation of human rights etc in order to establish justice, freedom, equality, peace rights and brotherhood among all races of America that is promised to them by American Constitution.
2. Explain the King’s analogy of bad check.
Ans: Martin Luther King compares the American constitution and declaration of independence with a bad check because it couldn’t be encashed though there was enough fund in the bank of Justice. This means that even though the Negroes were promised equal rights, equal opportunity, liberty and pursuit of happiness by the the American constitution, government has failed to keep its promise. The Negros are still the victims of racial injustice.
3. What other analogy does the king later develop?
Later King describes the racial injustice as quicksand and brotherhood as a solid rock. The state of Mississippi as a desert state boiling with the heat of injustice and oppression. The king believes that it will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice one day. Likewise he uses musical symphony that will help them to transform the dispute of the nation into the beautiful symphony of brotherhood.