Little-known facts about Martin Luther King's ‘I Have a Dream’ speech

One of the greatest speeches in history was not going so well.

 RELATED: WATCH: Unveiling of new Martin Luther King Jr. Statue:

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stood before 250,000 people on the National Mall in Washington 54 years ago today. He spoke from a prepared text. He was nervous. The speech wasn’t flat. It just wasn’t great.

Perhaps sensing that he wasn’t reaching the throngs before him, King paused. He set aside his text and reached for words that he hoped would galvanize a nation. 

RELATED: Aug. 28, the date of King’s statue dedication, has poignant meaning in Civil Rights history

Recommended for you

Recommended for you

Recommended for you

Most read

  1. 1 Super Bowl sponsor Pepsi is painting Coke's Atlanta blue
  2. 2 Teen wearing MAGA hat in protest video speaks out
  3. 3 Report: 20-year-old killed in fiery I-20 wreck was UGA student

Two things about the extraordinary oratory that came next are not widely known. For one, the “I Have a Dream” speech was not in King’s text that day. For another, King had uttered those words in an earlier speech, in a small town, 10 months before, and he had a notion of their power.

Read more about  the “I Have a Dream” speech here and meet some of the people whose lives it touched more than a half-century ago.


How lifelike is the new Martin Luther King Jr. statue?

Shared space, shared history: What Georgia’s governor might say 

Photos: Statues of MLK around the nation (and beyond)

More from AJC