When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir.
This note was a promise that all men would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
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 cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism .
Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy.
Now is the time to lift our nation from the quick sands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood.
Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children.
It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment...
But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice.
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.
We must understand that our freedom is inextricably bound to the freedom of others.
We cannot walk alone.
I say to you today, my friends, that 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 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 every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.
This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood.
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 all of God's children 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."
If America is to be a great nation, this must become true.
And when this happens, when we allow freedom to 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 all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:
Free at last! Free at last!
Thank God Almighty, we are free at last.
MORE SPECIAL COVERAGE
Pages A4 and A5