One thing I learned this week during the 5oth anniversary of the March on Washington was that a substantial part of Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous “I have a dream” speech was improvised. Specifically, the part about having a dream…
While King had used the dream theme in previous speeches, he hadn’t included it in the prepared text for his speech for the March.
But as Drew Hansen wrote in the New York Times earlier this week, King became dissatisfied with how he was concluding his speech. So when singer and activist Mahalia Jackson shouted out behind him, “Tell them about the dream, Martin,” he did just that, and launched into the language that would define his brilliant address to the world.
Mahalia Jackson singing “How I Got Over” at the March on Washington