What Does "I Have a Dream" Mean Today?

Aug. 28 is the anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s famous speech in 1963. Do his words still resonate in 2012? And what do they mean in an election year?

Today, a political battle rages in America. Gifted orators are evoking dreams of prosperity and peace. For some, that dream can only be built by Mitt Romney. Others say President Obama deserves a second chance. 

Go back to Aug. 28, 1963—another election year—and guess what? A political battle was raging in America. And one of the most gifted orators in American history was evoking dreams of prosperity and peace on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. But Martin Luther King, Jr. wasn't relying on a presidential candidate to build the dream. He was inviting and American people to create it themselves. And in the space of 17 minutes, King ignited a revolution.

Does "I Have a Dream" mean anything today, 39 years after the speech was delivered? Do the words still resonate? 

"In a sense we have come to our nation's capital to cash a check," said King. "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."

Read the full text of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech here.

Share your thoughts on the significance of King's "I Have a Dream" speech in 2012. What did it mean then? What does it mean now?

Rebecca Tait August 29, 2012 at 12:25 AM
The "I have a Dream" speech made me hope that by the year "2000" there would be no more prejudice. Didn't quite turn out that way, but lots of progress has been made. I was just a young child then, but old enough to know it was a stirring speech made by a great man. Martin Lurther King Jr.
David H. Perez August 29, 2012 at 02:43 PM
I heard that wonderful speech broadcast on KGO Radio yesterday, and it still brings tears to my eyes. Yes, we have made some progress since 1963, and who would have thought back then that we would have an African-American president? We still have a long way to go, though, since prejudice is still rampant and there are still many who want that Black president out of office.
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