Martin Luther King, Jr. delivers “I Have a Dream” speech at the March on Washington

On the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC, the African-American civil rights movement reached its peak when Martin Luther King, Jr., addressed an estimated 250,000 people participating in the March on Washington for Jobs and freedom. Protesters – black and white, poor and rich – gathered in the nation’s capital to demand the right to vote and equal opportunities for African Americans and to call for an end to racial segregation and discrimination.

The Peaceful Rally was the largest grievance-redressing assembly the capital has ever seen, and King was the last speaker. With the statue of Abraham Lincoln – the great emancipator – towering behind him, King used the rhetorical skills he had developed as a Baptist preacher to show how, as he put it, the “Negro is still not free. “. He spoke of the struggle ahead, stressing the importance of continued action and non-violent protest. Coming to the end of his prepared text (which, like other speakers that day, he had limited to seven minutes), he was overwhelmed by the moment and launched into an impromptu sermon.

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