On August 28, 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered one of the most significant and memorable speeches in American history to a crowd of more than 250,000 in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC as part of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. A tireless activist, Martin Luther King, Jr. was a civil rights and labor leader who defied American racists and oppressors, not with their own weak weapons of hatred and fear, but with love and a call for understanding.
In the same year that he made this speech, Martin Luther King, Jr. was honored as Time magazine's Man of the Year, and the next year, he would be the youngest man to receive a Nobel Peace Prize.
Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in April of 1968, but as with those singular few true leaders in history, his legacy lives on in his actions, words, and the millions of people he inspired (and continues to inspire).
While progress has been made in race relations in the United States, there is still much work to be done here and around the world, and the gravity of Martin Luther King, Jr's words continues to apply today.
"...We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children.
It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. And those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. And there will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges
There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?" ... No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until "justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream."
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."
And this will be the day -- this will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with new meaning:
My country 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing.
Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrim's pride,
From every mountainside, let freedom ring!
And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true
And so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire.
Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York.
Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of
Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado.
Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California.
But not only that:
Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.
Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee.
Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi.
From every mountainside, let freedom ring.
And when this happens, when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:
Free at last! Free at last!
Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"
Are you satisfied?
Be inspired: read the whole speech and watch it on video here.