On Tuesday, The White House issued a presidential message on the 55 year anniversary of the day Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his iconic “I Have a Dream” speech. The speech was delivered at the Lincoln Memorial on Aug. 28, 1963, for the March on Washington.
According to TIME: While planning for the event had been going on for years before that day, and copies of the speech drafts and notes show that King had been working on what to say for weeks, many may not realize that the most famous lines were not planned at all.
Some credit goes to the gospel singer Mahalia Jackson, King’s former legal counsel Clarence B. Jones, 87, tells TIME.
…after she performed “How I Got Over” and “I’ve Been ‘Buked and I’ve Been Scorned” at the march, she stuck close by through what would turn out to be one of his most important speeches.
“What most people don’t know is that she shouted to him as he was speaking, ‘Martin! Tell them about the dream! Martin, tell them about the dream!’ I was there. I saw it with my own eyes. I was not on the stage, Dr. King’s back was to me as he was speaking, but I could hear and see him,” Jones tells TIME. “He took the written text that he had been reading from and moved it to the left side of the lectern, grabbed both hands of the lectern, and looked out to the thousands of people out there, and that’s when he started speaking extemporaneously. When Baptist preachers get particularly moved, many of them have a habit of taking their right foot as they’re standing and rubbing it up and down the lower part of their left leg. I saw Martin start to rub his right foot on the lower part of his left leg, and I said to someone who was standing next to me, ‘These people out there, they don’t know it, but they’re about ready to go to church.’”
In his message, Trump wrote, “More than half a century after his speech, our Nation reaffirms our commitment to protecting the promise of America for all our people. For this reason, my Administration is continuing to create an environment where the American Dream—and its many opportunities—are available for all hardworking Americans.”
He went on to comment on record low unemployment rate for African Americans.
Trump ended his message, “May the memory of Dr. King, and the efforts we have made to fulfill his dream, remind us of the bonds of love and mutual respect that unite us.”
The presidential message about the speech, released on WhiteHouse.gov, may be read in its entirety below the video of the speech.
Presidential Message on the 55th Anniversary of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s, “I Have a Dream” Speech
Issued on: August 28, 2018
Today, our Nation commemorates 55 years since the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial during the March for Jobs and Freedom, and spoke passionately for his dream of equality and justice for all.
On August 28, 1963, Dr. King addressed a sea of marchers from across our Nation and spoke to the conscience of all Americans. He told the crowd about his dream. “I have a dream,” Dr. King declared, that the United States would fulfill its creed and treat all people as having been created equal; that people would form bonds that overcome racial injustices; that race would be irrelevant to social status or position; and that freedom and justice would prevail throughout the Nation. Dr. King ended his speech with a vision of enduring freedom: “When we allow freedom to ring—when we let it ring from every city 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…: ‘Free at last, Free at last, Great God almighty, We are free at last.’”
More than half a century after his speech, our Nation reaffirms our commitment to protecting the promise of America for all our people. For this reason, my Administration is continuing to create an environment where the American Dream—and its many opportunities—are available for all hardworking Americans. As a result, for example, we have already seen the unemployment rate for African Americans reach a record low.
As we mark this historic milestone, we remain ever optimistic of our shared future as children of God and citizens of this great Nation. May the memory of Dr. King, and the efforts we have made to fulfill his dream, remind us of the bonds of love and mutual respect that unite us.