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August 28, 1963:
"I have a dream"

Gerald Ghislain

Posted on August 20 2018

August 28, 1963: I have a dream - Histoires de Parfums

Martin Luther King Jr. was born in Atlanta on January 15, 1929. Son of a pastor, he decides to follow in his father's footsteps and becomes a pastor at the age of 18. During his studies, he reads Ghandi'sworks, through which he adopts the philosophy of non-violence. In 1953, he marries Coretta Scott, with whom he has four children. In the same year, he is deemed pastor of the baptist church DexterAvenue,which is located in front of Alabama's slate legislation office in the city of Montgomery.

On December 1st, Rosa Parks an African American woman, disobeys the law and refuses to sit in the back of the bus. She is arrested and accused of public disorderly conduct and violating the law. This marks the beginning of Montgomery’s bus boycott which lasted 381 days.

On December 5th, the leaders of Montgomery's black community united and formed theMontgomery Improvement Association, of which Martin Luther king is elected president. The black community of Montgomery strategically organizes a way to avoid using the city's buses. An alternate bus system and carpool is put in place. The movement attracts the media's attention on a national level and on November 13, 1956 the supreme courtissues a new law, making segregation in buses illegal.

Martin Luther King, only 27 years old, has won his first victory, proving his ability to stand as a leader and support system during long-term protests. In the coming years, his proven capacities will bring him to lead all protests against racial segregation laws.

Martin Luther King continues to fight for the civil rights of African Americans. Towards the end of the 1950's, he becomes head of the African-Movement advocating for equal rights. During this period, he is arrested multiple times and victimized by many attacks, yet continues to promote non-violence. 

In 1960, John F. Kennedy is elected president of the United States.As a democratic candidate, he vouched for equal civil rights throughout his campaign. His election was a light of hope for the African-American community, however, once in office, he takes no action in that field in fear of losing the support of the American people. In the following years, social movements will compel him to act on his promises.

In 1963, Martin Luther King and the leaders of the African American movement centralize their actions in the most segregated city of America: Birmingham, Alabama. Despite the ban on social movements in the public space ordered by the chief of police, Martin Luther King continues to organize demonstrations in the city. He is arrested, but then discharged by Kennedy. The violence with which protesters, many of whom were children, were reprimanded, shocked Americans witnessing the photos on television.

Under public scrutiny, John F. Kennedy decides to dedicate a term to segregation laws and declares that congress will begin a project to abolish segregation in May. In June, Martin Luther King and other leaders of the civil rights movement inform Kennedy of a march dedicated to support his up-and-coming anti-segregation laws.

The march in took place in Washington during August. It amalgamated hundreds of thousands of black and white individuals. Amongst them were Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, James Baldwin and Marlon Brando. On August 28, around 6:00pm at the Lincoln Memorial, Martin Luther King makes a speech, and at the end, repeats "I have a dream" six times. Aired live on television, the speech marks a new light of hope, and is still considered one of the most esteemed speeches of the English language. 

This public demonstration set off a continuum of movements both on civil and political levels, and eventually led to the end of segregation laws, with the "Civil rights act" adopted in 1964 and the "Voting rights act", adopted in 1965.

In 1964, Martin Luther King Jr. receives the Nobel Peace Prize for his actions, becoming the youngest to receive the title.

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