five score years ago, a great american, in whose symbolic shadow we stand signed the emancipation proclamation. this momentous decree came a s a great beacon light of hope to millions of negro slaves who h ad been seared in the flames of withering injustice.
it came a s a joyous daybreak to end the long night of captivity.
but one hundred years later, we must face the tragic fact
that the negro is still not free. one hundred years later, the life of the negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of
segregation and the chains of discrimination. one hundred years later, the negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. one hundred years later, the negro is still languishing in the corners of american society and finds himself an exile in his own land. so we have
come here today to dramatize an appalling condition.
in a sense we have come to our nation’s capital to cash
a check. when the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the constitution and the declaration of independence, they were signing a promissory note to which
every american was to fall heir. this note was a promise that
all men would be guaranteed the inalienable rights of life,