Circumstances

The speech “I Have a Dream” was delivered by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on the 28th of August, 1963, during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom and within the larger Civil Rights Movement in the US.

At that time, African Americans in the US were still often discriminated against through segregation laws according to which the African-American population was not supposed to mix with the white population. African Americans were supposed to live in separate residential areas, to study in separate schools, stay in special areas in busses, etc. This situation and its consequences are detailed by the speaker: “… the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality.” (ll. 83-84); “…our children are stripped of their self-hood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating: ‘For Whites Only.’ ” (ll. 89-91).

In reply to this constant discrimination and deprivation of civil rights, parts of the American popu...

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