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5 Things You Might Not Know About "I Have A Dream"

Updated on January 19, 2015

1. King Quadrupled his Original Speech TIme

King Jr. was only designated to speak for four minutes at the end. Instead of following his short speech he veered just a little off speech and took 16 minutes on his famous empowering speech.

Though every member of the audience hung onto each word and responded through the whole speech with praise and agreement.

2. King was the Last Speaker Not By Choice

Martin Luther King Jr. was the last speaker on August 28th, 1963. But it wasn't by choice. No one else wanted to speak last for fear that the cameras would leave by that last speaker's turn. Now, because King is the fair and humble man we know and love him as, he graciously agreed to go last.

Even though other speakers feared that camera crews wouldn't stick around past mid-afternoon, the crowd and the cameras stuck around until the last word of King's speech.

3. King's Speech was Last Minute

Well, Martin Luther King Jr. is just like us, a procrastinator. According to Clarence Jones, Martin's close friend and adviser, Luther hadn't figured out what he wanted to say 12 hours before speech time. Plus he had to stay up to 4 a.m. writing out his speech. Though most of MLK's speech was improvised, this still proves that Martin Luther King Jr. was just like us, nervous and stumped.

4. Many Might Not Have Even Heard The Speech

Yep, that's right. One of the most famous speeches in history, ever, might not have totally been heard by the 250,000 people in the audience. Before the event, the sound system was tampered with. The Attorney General at the time recruited only the best to try to fix the sound. It's doubtful that the "I Have a Dream" speech was clearly heard by the audience.

5. Martin Luther King Jr. Wasn't Even Going To Talk About His Dream

The truth is, Martin Luther King Jr. did not even prepare to give his ever so famous "I Have a Dream" portion of his speech. King had touched on his dreams portion in a speech two months earlier in Detroit. Mahalia Jackson knew this and during one of the pauses in Martin's speech filled by applause, she shouted, "Tell 'em about the dream, Martin!". King choose to veer off his script and touched back on that previous speech, honoring Jackson's request. Who knows, maybe his speech wouldn't have become famous if it weren't for that small improvise.

"Tell 'em about the dream, Martin!"

— Mahalia Jackson


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