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Excerpts from Martin Luther King's Speeches

by Ron Kurtus (revised 17 February 2018)

Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was a great orator is the tradition of many southern preachers and ministers. He had great use of his voice, along with poetic imagery in his speeches. This is the same delivery used in many "hell and brimstone" sermons that Southern Baptist ministers and other preachers have used.

His most famous speech was I Have a Dream, given on the steps at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. on August 28, 1963. In that speech, he included three mini-speeches that he included numerous times in other speeches. They are: I've Seen the Mountain Top, I Have a Dream and Let Freedom Ring.

We have included audio clips of those mini-speeches, so you can hear how he delivered the material.

(Text of Address)

Questions you may have include:

This lesson will answer those questions.

Learning from speech

Read this speech to gain insight on writing speeches and public speaking.

Speech writing

You can read the speech to examine its logical flow and use of imagery and emotional appeal. Note the length of the sentences and use of pauses. Short phrases make for effective delivery.

You can also outline the the speech to show where new ideas are presented and grouped.

(See Speech Writing for more information.)

Public speaking

Read part of the speech aloud—perhaps to a small audience or to yourself in a mirror. Pause at the commas and periods to allow for better understanding by the audience. Vary your pitch, rate and emotional level as you see fit.

(See Public Speaking for more information.)

Historical significance

Note the mission and goals of Rev. King in each of these mini-speeches. Do you think he was able to move people to action from these speech materials?

Martin Luther King, giving a speech

Martin Luther King, giving a speech


Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.:

I've seen the mountain top

I have a dream

Let freedom ring


Use this material by Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. to improve your skills in speech writing, public speaking, or history.

Speak with gusto

Resources and references

Ron Kurtus' Credentials


Martin Luther King Jr. Papers Project - Stanford University

Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" Speech - 1963 - Text and study

Historic Speeches Resources


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