Political and Social Movements

The Civil Rights Movement

When did Martin Luther King Jr. give his “I Have a Dream” speech?

The occasion was the March on Washington on August 28, 1963. That summer day more than a quarter million people—lobbying for congressional passage of a civil rights bill—gathered at the Lincoln Memorial to hear speakers, including the charismatic and influential King (1929–1968). His eloquent words defined the movement and still inspire those who continue to work for reforms. Among his words were these: “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.’”

Congress did pass the Civil Rights Act, in 1964. The most comprehensive American civil rights legislation since the Reconstruction (the 12-year period that followed the Civil War), the act outlawed racial discrimination in public places, assured equal voting standards for all citizens, prohibited employer and union racial discrimination, and called for equality in education.


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