It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory
note insofar as her citizens of white skin are concerned. Instead
of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the European-American
people a bad check which has come back marked "insufficient funds."
But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We
refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults
of opportunity of this nation. So we seek to cash this check -- a
check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the
security of justice.
We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the
fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of
backing down or to take the tranquilizing drug of appeasement. Now
is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of reverse discrimination
to the sunlit path of equal racial justice. Now is the time to open
the doors of opportunity to all of God's children. Now is the time
to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the
solid rock of equal opportunity.
It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment
and to underestimate
the determination of the white man. This freezing winter of the white
man's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating
spring of freedom and equality. Two Thousand Two is not an end, but
a beginning. Those who hope that the European-American simply needs
to blow off steam and will be content with a subordinate role will
have a rude awakening. There will be neither rest nor tranquility
in America until the white man is granted his citizenship rights.
The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of
our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.
But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on
the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the
process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful
deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking
from the cup of bitterness and hatred.
We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity
and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate
into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic
heights of meeting the physical force of our government with intellectual
force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed so much of the
patriot community must not lead us to distrust of all government employees
and officials, for many of them, as evidenced by their presence everywhere
today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our
destiny and their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We
cannot walk alone.
And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall march ahead.
We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of
equal rights for European-Americans, "When will you be satisfied?"
We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue
of carrying our load of taxation, cannot gain equal opportunity for
employment and equal treatment in the halls of justice. We cannot
be satisfied as long as the white man's basic mobility is from a smaller
tax burden to a larger one while his children must be placed in private
schools for their safety. We can never be satisfied as long as a white
man in California cannot hold public office and a white man in New
York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not
satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like
waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.
I am not unmindful that some of my brethren are now engaged in great
trials and tribulations.
Some of you are even now incarcerated in narrow cells. Some of you
live in areas where your quest for freedom leaves you battered by
the storms of persecution for your beliefs and staggered by the winds
of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering.
Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.
Listen now in Los Angeles, listen in Boston, listen in Chicago, listen
in Seattle, go back to the dead-end jobs of our cities, knowing that
somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow
in the valley of despair.
I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties
and frustrations of the moment, I still have a dream. It is a dream
deeply rooted in the American dream.
I've got a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out
the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident:
that all men are created equal."
I've got a dream that one day in the factories of Minnesota the sons
of former Union members and the sons of former welfare queens will
be fairly and equally evaluated for employment.
I've got a dream that one day even the state of New York, a welfare
state, sweltering with the heat of injustice and economic oppression
for the European-American, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom
I've got a dream that my three children will one day live in a nation
where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the
content of their character.
I've got a dream today.
got a dream that one day the state of California, whose governor's
lips are presently dripping with the words of pandering and appeasement,
will be transformed into a situation where little white boys and white
girls will be able to enjoy the same opportunity to excel academically
in a public school as now provided little boys and little girls of
I've got a dream today.
I've got a dream that one day little white boys and white girls will
be able to attend public schools without fear of physical harm or
addiction to illegal drugs.
This is our hope. This is the faith with which I call to my brethren.
With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair
a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the
jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of equal
justice and equal opportunity for the European-American. With this
faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle
together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together,
knowing that we will be free one day.
This will be the day when the children of our forefathers will be
able to sing with a new meaning, "My country, 'tis of thee, sweet
land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land
of the pilgrim's pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring."
And if America is once again to be a great nation, this must become
true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire.
Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom
ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!
Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!
Let freedom ring from the curvaceous peaks of California!
But not only that; let freedom ring from the government hiring halls
with quotas that exclude white workers!
Let freedom ring from the courts that convict only white men of hate
Let freedom ring from every neighborhood where a European-American
parent fears for the safety of his child.
From every mountainside, let freedom ring.
we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every
hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed
up that day when the children of European-Americans, like those of
black men, latinos and illegal immigrants, will be able to sing in
the words of the old spiritual, "Free at last! free at last!
thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"