Delivered to over , civil rights supporters from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D. Beginning with a reference to the Emancipation Proclamation , which declared millions of slaves free in ,  King said "one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free". The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom was partly intended to demonstrate mass support for the civil rights legislation proposed by President Kennedy in June. Martin Luther King and other leaders therefore agreed to keep their speeches calm, also, to avoid provoking the civil disobedience which had become the hallmark of the Civil Rights Movement. King originally designed his speech as a homage to Abraham Lincoln 's Gettysburg Address , timed to correspond with the centennial of the Emancipation Proclamation. This speech discusses the gap between the American dream and reality, saying that overt white supremacists have violated the dream, and that "our federal government has also scarred the dream through its apathy and hypocrisy, its betrayal of the cause of justice".
In his iconic speech at the Lincoln Memorial for the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, King urged America to "make real the promises of democracy. I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation. Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves [ Audience :] Yeah who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity. But one hundred years later All right , the Negro still is not free. My Lord, Yeah One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. Hmm One hundred years later All right , the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later My Lord [ applause ], the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself in exile in his own land. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence Yeah , they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir.
M artin L uther K ing , J r. Video Purchase. Off-Site audio mp3 of Address. Your browser does not support the audio element.
A call for equality and freedom , it became one of the defining moments of the civil rights movement and one of the most iconic speeches in American history. Some , people gathered at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D. The one-day event both protested racial discrimination and encouraged the passage of civil rights legislation; at the time, the Civil Rights Act was being discussed in Congress. The march featured various speeches as well as musical performances before King, a celebrated orator, appeared as the final official speaker; A. Philip Randolph and Benjamin Mays ended the proceedings with a pledge and a benediction , respectively. According to various observers, however, as King neared the end, the address was failing to achieve the resonance of his more noteworthy speeches.