We’ve all heard Martin Luther King’s famous ‘I have a dream’ speech from the 1963 March on Washington. It’s still considered one of the greatest — if not the greatest — speech of the twentieth century.
But it overshadows the other speeches given that day, some of which were quite powerful.
Here’s the schedule for the event.
One of the other great speeches was from a student leader named John Lewis — the only speaker still alive. His were much more combative words than King’s, and, in fact, he was compelled to tone down the rhetoric. The following is an excerpt from the original speech.
To those who have said, ‘Be patient and wait,’ we must say that ‘patience’ is a dirty and nasty word. We cannot be patient. We do not want to be free gradually. We want our freedom and we want it now.
We cannot depend on any political party — for both the Democrats and the Republicans have betrayed the basic principles of the Declaration of Independence.
We all recognize the fact that if any radical social, political and economic changes are to take place in this society, the people, the masses must bring them about.
Mr. Kennedy is trying to take the revolution out of the streets and put it into the courts. Listen Mr. Kennedy, listen Mr. Congressmen, listen fellow citizens, the black masses are on the march for jobs and for freedom, and we must say to the politicians that there won’t be a cooling off period. We won’t stop now…
…The time will come when we will not confine our marching to Washington. We will march through the South, through the heart of Dixie. The way Sherman did. We shall pursue our own scorched earth policy and burn Jim Crow to the ground. Burn Jim Crow to the ground nonviolently.
Also, here’s a recording of Mahalia Jackson’s “How I Got Over” sung just minutes before Martin Luther King took the podium.