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Christopher Zarr, Education Specialist

Martin Luther King Jr. and the "I Have a Dream Speech"

On August 28, 1963, Martin Luther King Jr., delivered a speech to a massive group of civil rights marchers gathered around the Lincoln memorial in Washington DC. The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom brought together the nations most prominent civil rights leaders, along with tens of thousands of marchers, to press the United States government for equality. The culmination of this event was the influential and most memorable speech of Dr. King's career. Popularly known as the "I have a Dream" speech, the words of Martin Luther King, Jr. influenced the Federal government to take more direct actions to more fully realize racial equality.

Mister Maestro, Inc., and Twentieth Century Fox Records Company recorded the speech and offered the recording for sale. Dr. King and his attorneys claimed that the speech was copyrighted and the recording violated that copyright. The court found in favor of Dr. King. Among the papers filed in the case and available at the National Archives at New York City is a deposition given by Martin Luther King, Jr. and signed in his own hand.

Educational Activities

Discussion Questions:

  • What was the official name for the event on August 28th, 1963? What does this title tell us about its focus?
  • What organizations were involved in the the March on Washington? What does this tell us about the event?
  • How does Martin Luther King, Jr. describe his writing process?
  • What are the major issues of this case? In other words, what is Martin Luther King, Jr. disputing?
  • How does Martin Luther King, Jr. describe his earlier speech on June 23rd in Detroit?
  • How does Martin Luther King, Jr. compare and contrast the two "I have a dream..." speeches? What are the major similarities and differences?

Additional Resources from the National Archives concerning Martin Luther King, Jr.

Other Resources on Martin Luther King, Jr.

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