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Why the "I Have a Dream" Speech Endures


When the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous “I have a dream” speech in 1963, he brought the Civil Rights movement into the homes of mainstream white America.

As the first big integrated protest to be staged in the north, PR counselor and executive speech writer Bob Oltmanns says at that point in history, the speech was a breakout PR moment.

"In a political context, setting high expectations and then being able to live up to them is almost impossible to do." Oltmanns says King not only lived up to the expectations, he hit it out of the ballpark.

Oltmanns says King was a very gifted orator and he actually managed to wing half of the speech. His notes included "Thank God almighty I'm free at last" for an end point.

"I think the moment was really weighing on him and as he got to about the half way point he realized that what he had written was not living up to the moment."

With King's training in the baptist church, he used scripture to weave together ideas which appealed to all Americans.