Why Listening To King's 'I Have A Dream Speech' Still Moves People Today
Scholar Reflects On Speech's Anniversary
By Veronica Rueckert
Monday, August 26, 2013, 10:00am
This week marks the 50th anniversary of the famous March on Washington, where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his famous "I Have A Dream" speech.
While many will celebrate and mark the anniversary, a prominent school said that those lines, which have since earned a prominent place in American history, were a last-minute addition to King's prepared remarks.
"Listening to Martin Luther King Jr.'s 'I Have a Dream Speech' is good for the soul," said Stephen Lucas, a professor of communcation arts at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Lucas is the author of the book "Word of a Century: The Top 100 American Speeches, 1900-1999," and compares listening to the speech now and again to listening to a classic piece of music that stands up to repeat listening.
But the part that many remember today came at a moment when King veered from the prepared text and extemporized on similar remarks he'd made at a speech in Detroit, Lucas said.
But on that day in Washington, the "Dream" section took flight.
"You can hear him moving into preacher mode," said Lucas.
The combination of words and delivery made the speech one of the greatest examples of oratory for all time.