I Have A Dream Summary, Notes And Line By Line Analysis In English By Martin Luther King Jr


‘I Have A Dream’ is a speech given by Martin Luther King Jr. It was his acclaimed “March on Washington” speech delivered in Washington, 1603. As he himself puts it, it is “the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation (America).”

About the Author:

Martin Luther King Jr (1929-1968) was an American Baptist minister in addition to being a notable civil rights activist. Interestingly, he happens to be the youngest man for being the recipient of the Nobel Prize. Famous works of his include ‘I Have A Dream’, ‘Why We Can’t Wait,’ and ‘A Knock At Midnight’. 


The “bad check”:

He begins the speech by referring to how he was giving this speech under a great American’s “symbolic shadow”, referring to Abraham Lincoln. He expresses his distress over how, 100 years later, the Blacks were still oppressed and discriminated against in America, as can be seen from the usage of his word “Negro”.

Despite the Emancipation Proclamation declaring that Black Americans had guaranteed the “unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”, they were still subjected to cruel injustice. He states that America had given the Negroes a “bad check” with “insufficient funds”. He, however, refuses to accept that justice will not prevail.

The Fierce Urgency:

King deems this situation demanding fierce urgency, stating that that was the time “to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood”. He wishes for the people to put an end to this mindless indiscrimination, for every single one of them were “God’s children”.

He beseeches the people to put an end to the eternal, scorching summer the Negroes had to suffer and grant them an “invigorating autumn of freedom”. He asserts that America will know no peace and only revolts until the Blacks received equality, fraternity, and freedom. 


That being said, King is mindful of the fact that justice must be earned righteously, without “bitterness and hatred”. He abhorred violence and asserts that freedom must be attainted with “dignity and discipline”. He refers to the Whites as “brothers” upon whom mistrust and harm must not be inflicted upon. Rather, in this struggle, they ought to fight together as one for they were “inextricably bound”.

No Satisfaction:

King states how the Negroes will never be satisfied until they were free of ‘police brutality’, can gain equal accommodation, and their children could lead a dignified life. He declares how they will be satisfied only with equal voting rights and justice prevailed. Putting aside the unspeakable suffering the people were subjected to, he asks them to march on until the goal was attained- equality and freedom.

The Dream:

He now talks about his famous ‘dream’. He states that he dreamed of an America where racial discrimination was eradicated and the Blacks and Whites could sit together and dine. He dreams that one day, his four children could live without being judged on the basis of their colour. He dreams that one day in Alabama, children of both races come together and break this oppression imposed by “vicious racists”.

He dreams of humanity seeing the “glory of God”, filled with hope and faith. Shunning despair, he believes in his faith, trusting that one day America will be a land where each and everyone are considered equal and sing of freedom. 


This is an inspirational speech by King. His powerful, yet moving words gently coaxed the people of America to see reason, to come out of their mindset clouded by deep-rooted prejudices on the basis of race.