A Man’s Dream, a Reality
It’s hard to imagine how one man can change a nation with a simple idea of equality. Dating back to the 1960’s, people were treated differently depending on their race, gender, ethnicity, and sexual background. Whites males were the superior to everyone else and blacks, or African Americans, were looked down upon. While African Americans were treated better in the 1960’s than they were in the 1860’s when they were slaves in the United States, they still were treated unequally in our society. It wasn’t until the 1950’s that a movement started that changed the United States, rewrote history, and help shape the world that we know today.
The Civil Rights Movement occurred in the 1950’s and it was a period of time where our society was changing. Contrary to what many people believe today, it wasn’t just a movement for African Americans to be treated equal, it was a movement mainly for everyone to be treated equal, men and women of different races, people with disabilities, and sexual orientation. The movement was aimed at protesting through nonviolent ways and forms of resistance. While the movement had many iconic figures during the time, many historians connect the most important person of this time period with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and what he did.
Dr. King fought for equality for African Americans, victims of injustice, and the lower class citizens. His protest methods were in comparison to Gandhi by being nonviolent and peaceful. While Dr. King had many important parts during the movement, many people remember his speech he gave in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. in 1963 and it is referred to his “I Have a Dream” speech. Dr. King gave the speech in front of thousands of people of diverse ethnic backgrounds. One of the most impressive parts of this speech is that while most of the speech was wrote out, towards the end of the speech, Dr. King went off script and spoke his mind and it becomes the most important part of his speech. It follows: “I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.
I have 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 have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood. I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice. I have a dream that my four little 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 have a dream today. I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers. I have a dream today.”
When Dr. King finished his speech, it is regarded as one of the most influential speeches in American history and it helped put civil rights at the top of the political agenda for the United States and it contributed to the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, it focuses about equality for all and his faith that all men would someday be brothers and we wouldn’t see each other as different color but as one. His speeches lead to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which would be a landmark in our society because it outlawed major forms of discrimination against racial, ethnic, national and religious minorities, and women. It ended unequal application of voter registration requirements and racial segregation in schools, at the workplace and by facilities that served the general public. Because of Dr. King’s influence on the movement, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. Sadly, while Dr. King’s influence on United States history is well documented, so is his assassination on April 4, 1968. Dr. King was in a motel lobby when he was shot by James Earl Ray. When his death reached the rest of the United States, riots broke out which went against everything Dr. King stood for when he was fighting for equality. Just like President Lincoln’s death, Dr. King’s death is also very controversial to this vary day.
While Dr. King was killed during the movement, his hand and blueprints were already all over United States history because the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was already passed. Today we celebrate in his honor, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day on the 3rd Monday of January. He helped shape the world that we know today. Without his influence and how he protested, things maybe very different today. Dr. King not only influenced people but he also influenced a nation. He truly changed the landscape of American and his vision, his dream, soon became a reality.