I Have a Dream by Martin Luther King, Jr.
In I Have a Dream by Martin Luther King, Jr. we have the theme of freedom, hope, inequality, segregation, dignity and racism. Taken from his speech which was delivered at the Lincoln Monument, Washington D.C. on 28th August 1963 the reader realises after reading the speech that King may be exploring the theme of freedom. King with great enthusiasm decries the lack of freedom that is being given to black Americans. He sees it as unjust and a sign of white man’s privilege and inequality. He also suggests that the fight for freedom and equality should not be a violent struggle. Rather he suggests that a black American should not resort to violence in his plight for justice and equality. This in itself is interesting considering the time the speech was made. Many black people were treated unfairly by those in power so many might assume that they had a right to retaliate. This is not the direction that King suggests black America should take. He believe in a peaceful protest. One in whereby a black American can have dignity.
What is also interesting about the speech is the fact that King does not feel powerless over the situation he finds himself in. This may be important as it suggests that King believes every word of his speech. Though it would be several years before black Americans achieved any improvement and many might suggest that racism is still rampant in America today. Regardless of this King is still full of hope for the path that black Americans should take. He believes he will see an end to segregation and black and white children playing with each other. This is surely something that may have upset many white people considering they believed black Americans to be inferior to them. In many ways King was ahead of his time by promoting no violence and hoping that children of all colours and creeds would play with each other. When the reality was that America itself, particularly white America simply wasn’t ready for any type of racial normalization. King also wanted a financial equality for all black Americans deeming it inappropriate to move a black person from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. Nothing but complete equality with white America is what King was striving for. Something that in today’s terms some might suggest would be normal.
However at the time of writing (1963) none of these things were available to black Americans. They truly were treated as second class citizens at best. With segregated restaurants and wash rooms. If anything black people where isolated from the general population simply because of the colour of their skin. Something that again would be deemed absurd in modern times. Yet these are the conditions that black Americans had to live with. Totally unreasonable and unfair. How strong King felt is also noticeable by the fact that he gave his life for freedom. As too did many other black Americans. Such was the difficulty in shifting the opinion of white America. Though King did not stand alone his abilities as an orator helped ensure that black America kept up the pressure on white America. By never giving up King led the way for others. Men and women who still today would fight for the freedom and equality of black Americans where an injustice may be seen.
In reality King felt as though black Americans were not allowed the unalienable rights of the Declaration of Independence. Signed nearly two hundred years previously. It must also have been difficult for black Americans to hold back their anger over the way they were treated. However should they have lost their temper and resorted to violence many white Americans would have been pleased. It is more difficult to deal with a peaceful march that upholds an ideology than to tackle a march that is peppered with violence. Those who express violence have lost the cause once the first blow has been struck in anger. Something that King was well aware of hence his instruction that no violence should be used when marching. Even if white America may be violent towards them. The speech ends in hope with King listing eight states in America where the individual can ring out freedom before finally being inclusive and suggesting freedom can ring out from every mountainside. Even when faced with what must have felt like insurmountable obstacles. King remained hopeful for the future. A future he himself would not see but which he knew was attainable. Overall the speech which has serious elements is one of hope for the future for black Americans.