Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity, has its place, but I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And he's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over and I've seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you, but I want you to know tonight that we as a people will get to the Promised Land!
There is something that I must say to my people, who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of Justice: In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for Freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.
When you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will, and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate-filled policeman curse, kick and even kill your Black brothers and sisters; when you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an air-tight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society; when you suddenly find your tongue twisted, and your speech stammering, as you seek to explain to your six-year-old daughter why she can't go to the public amusement park, and see her developing an unconscious bitterness toward White people; when you have to concoct an answer for a five-year-old son who is asking 'Daddy, why do White people treat Colored people so mean?'; when you are humiliated day-in and day-out by nagging signs reading 'White' and 'Colored'; when your first name becomes 'Nigger', your middle name becomes 'Boy', however old you are, and your last name becomes 'John', and your wife and mother are never given the respected title 'Missus'; when you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro, living constantly at tip-toe stance, never quite knowing what to expect next, and are plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you are forever fighting a degrading and degenerating sense of nobodiness – then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait.
This will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with 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.' And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghanies of Pennsylvania. Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado. Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California, but not only that, let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia. Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee. Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring. 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.'
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.' (applause) I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former of former slave owners will they 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! (applause) 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 girls as sisters and brothers. I have a dream today! (applause) I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places would be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight and glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together. This is our hope and this is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. 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.