Martin Luther King's "I have a dream" speech was delivered on August 28, 1963 during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. He first expressed his pleasure to be able to share his sentiments to the crowd, in what he claims to be "the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation."
King opens the speech by recalling moment where a ray of hope came upon millions of Negros in America through the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. However, he soon followed that even after a hundred years, the Negros are still not free. They were still chained by segregation and discrimination in their own land. With the history of the black briefly discussed, he then mentions the Constitution and Declaration of Independence, to which he states that they have come to cash a check, or rather, they have come to claim the rights that the government owes them. However, he notes that America's citizens of color had been given a promissory note on these rights, before defaulting into a bad check marked with insufficient funds. In other words, America has denied them their promised rights. King then adopts a more hopeful tone in his speech by emphasizing that it was time to rise from the dark and make their way towards the path of racial justice. He states, through the use of metaphors, that the Negro's discontent will not rest nor pass until they are granted their rights.
King proceeds to caution his people not to commit any wrongful deeds for the sake of freedom, but rather attain it with dignity and discipline. He adds that they must not distrust all of the white people, for there are those who have joined the movement after realizing that their destinies are intertwined. He mentions that they all must pledge to not turn back, and to not be satisfied with what the nation gives them as long as there are still Negros who fall victim to racial discrimination and are robbed of their dignity through racial segregation signs. He encourages all to not be satisfied until justice "rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream." He then follows up that he recognizes and acknowledges the struggles and hardships of the marchers, before advising them to undertake that pain once more with the hope that their suffering will be redemptive.
Then comes the most famous part of King's speech, where he says that his dream is "deeply rooted in the American dream." He says that his dream was that "the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood", emphasizing the need for both black and white Americans to work together. He then talks about the importance of faith, and that through the presence of faith, they will all be able to work and face hardships together. He mentions the mountainsides of the country as he repeatedly wishes to let freedom ring in the lands. He then closes his speech with another powerful line that shows what they might achieve by bringing equality into the nation: “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 the words of the old Negro spiritual: ‘Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!’”