Fifty years since the ‘I have a dream speech’

Let Freedom Ring

Let Freedom Ring (Photo credit: Greg Woodhouse Photography)

For me there was only one headline for 28th August, the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s famous ‘I have a dream’ speech.  As resonant and powerful today as it was 50 years ago and one that will stand the test of historical judgment.  I’ve called the poem ‘Let Freedom Ring’ though because for me that was the underlying message of the speech that he built up in the crescendo of passion at the end.


Let Freedom Ring

I have a dream of liberty,
of the nation living the decree
of holding truths self-evident,
of honouring a precedent
of meaningful equality.

Let freedom ring in Mississippi.
Let oppression’s flaming hypocrisy
be quelled by tides of argument.
I have a dream.

My children will live in harmony,
judged not by their skin of ebony
but by their values and moral intent,
sweeping aside the malcontents
so races, beliefs share unity.
I have a dream.


28th August 2013 – headline from the BBC

Notes:  Fifty years on: ‘King’s dream continues to inspire us’.”  It is 50 years since the American civil rights leader Martin Luther King delivered his “I have a dream” speech.  It has since been recognised as one of the great speeches of American history.  On 28 August 1963, more than 200,000 Americans joined a march on Washington demanding equal justice for all citizens under the law.  On that day, the inter-racial crowd heard Martin Luther King deliver his famous speech, predicting a time when freedom and equality for all would become a reality in the US.

(Note:  Although his speech is famously known as the ‘I have a dream speech’ that formed only a small part of the whole powerful delivery.  I have chosen the title ‘Let Freedom Ring’ because, for me, that was the underlying message.)


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