Martin Luther King, Jr., delivered his famous "I Have a Dream" speech from Washington's Lincoln Memorial on August 28, 1963, fifty years ago today.
Addressing over 250,000 people, King referenced a milestone himself - Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation, declared 100 years prior.
He did not talk about bills before Congress or the marchers’ demands, but framed the civil rights movement within the broader landscape of history.
MLK evoked past, present and future, within the context of Scripture, in one of the most famous speeches - many believe the best - in U.S. history.
He didn't plan it quite that way. King was about halfway through a prepared speech when Mahalia Jackson shouted out to him from the speakers’ stand:
“Tell ’em about the ‘Dream,’ Martin, tell ’em about the ‘Dream’!”
And so he did. She was referring to a riff MLK had delivered on earlier occasions, and he went on to deliver an extraordinary improvisation on the "dream" theme.
What followed would become one of the most recognizable refrains in the world, even half a century later. Read the full text of King's iconic address below: