Martin Luther King, Jr. 50 years ago


Paul Schutzer, [Martin Luther King Jr. addressing Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom, in front of the Lincoln Memorial, Washington, D.C.], May 17, 1957 (1808.2005)

Fifty years after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination, his speech “I Have a Dream” continues to powerfully resonate:

[…] Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.

We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protests to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to distrust 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.

They have come to realize that their freedom inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone. 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.

[…]

I say to you today, my friends, though, 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, 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 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 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 in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification, one day right there 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.


Francis Miller, [Martin Luther King, Jr. delivering his “I Have a Dream” speech to the crowd assembled in front of the Lincoln Memorial, Washington, D.C.], August 28, 1963 (1013.2005)

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About claartjevandijk

Assistant Curator, Collections at the International Center of Photography, New York
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