On August 28, 1963, a quarter of a million people, mostly African Americans, gathered at the National Mall for The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. They came to express their discontent with the persistent racism of the nation, particularly that of the southern states where Jim Crow laws maintained racially separate and unequal societies. This gathering is considered a major event within the Civil Rights movement, and a catalyst for the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, for subsequent protests that followed, and for the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
This day is most well remembered, though, for a spontaneous description of a better future given by The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., during his famous "I Have a Dream" speech.
Prompted by Mahalia Jackson, who urged him to break from his prepared words to tell the crowd about his dream, King said:
I say to you today, my friends, 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." I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will 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. 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