King prononçant son discours à la marche de Washington,
le 28 août 1963. Photo © Rowland Scherman.
Source : Library of Congress,
Prints and Photographs Division, Washington D.C.
L’enthousiasme et la ferveur qui ont accompagné le discours vont contribuer à l’adoption des lois anti-ségrégation de 1964-65.
Il prend la parole à la fin de la manifestation, devant le Lincoln Memorial, pour appeler à la fin du racisme aux États-unis. Grand orateur, rôdé aux discours prononcés en tant que pasteur et leader du mouvement des droits civiques, King s’inspire de thèmes bibliques et des textes constitutifs de l’Amérique.
La première partie de son allocution s’articule autour des promesses non tenues : « le noir […] se trouve en exil dans son propre pays » un siècle après l’abolition de l’esclavage ; « tous les hommes sont créés égaux » est un credo de la déclaration d’indépendance et la constitution garantit à chacun le « droit inaliénable à la vie, à la liberté et à la recherche du bonheur ». Mais « l’amérique ne connaitra ni le repos ni la tranquillité tant que le noir n’aura pas obtenu ses droits de citoyen ». « nous ne devons pas laisser nos revendications créatrices dégénérer en violence physique ».
Aux mots d’esclavage et de haine, king oppose les mots de liberté et d’égalité. La chanteuse de gospel présente à ses côtés, Mahalia Jackson, lui souffle alors « parle-leur de ton rêve, Martin ». La seconde partie de son discours, d’une durée au final de 17 minutes, lève un vent d’espoir « j’ai un rêve aujourd’hui … un rêve profondément ancré dans le rêve américain [ …] ». Il poursuit, dans un paragraphe devenu l’un des plus célèbres, « je rêve qu'un jour sur les collines rouges de géorgie, les fils des anciens esclaves et les fils des anciens propriétaires d'esclaves pourront s'asseoir ensemble à la table de la fraternité. Je rêve qu'un jour, même l'état du Mississippi, un état qui étouffe dans la fournaise de l'injustice, qui étouffe dans la fournaise de l'oppression, se transformera en oasis de liberté et de justice. Je rêve que mes quatre jeunes enfants vivront un jour dans une nation où ils ne seront pas jugés sur la couleur de leur peau, mais sur leur personnalité propre.»
Le discours s’achève par une stance d’un Negro Spiritual (chant religieux né dans la communauté noire américaine et à l’origine du gospel) : « béni soit le Tout-Puissant, nous sommes libres enfin ! ».
Who wrote the "I have a dream" speech?
I have a dream is Martin Luther King's most famous speech. It is considered by many as the most powerful/beautiful (ça dépend du but) speech ever given by an American. With universal reach, it places itself in the historic context of the August 28th, 1963 march on Washington, D.C..
The enthusiasm and fervor which accompanied the speech contributed to the adoption of the 1964-65 anti-segregation laws.
He spoke at the end of the protest, in front of the Lincoln Memorial, to call for an end to racism in the United States.
A remarkable orator, experienced as a pastor and leader of civic movements, King was inspired by biblical themes and American constitutional writings.
The first part of his allocution was crafted around unkept promises: « the Negro […] and finds himself an exile in his own land. » un siècle après l’abolition de l’esclavage ; « All men are created equal » is taken directly from the Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution guarantees to each and everyone the " xquotex ». But « There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.». « nWe must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. ».
To words such as "slavery" and "hatred," King opposed "liberty" and "equality." The gospel singer standing next to him, Mahalia Jackson urged him on: "Tell them about the dream, Martin! ». The second part of his speech, lasting 17 minutes, raised a wind of hope " « I still have a dream … It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. [ …] ». He continued, in one of the most famous paragraphs, «
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.»
The speech ended by a Negro Spiritual stance (a type of religious song created by the Black American community which gave rise to gospel music) : « thank God Almighty, we are free at last!” ».
Extrait du texte du discours de Martin Luther King en anglais :
"I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.
Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.
But one hundred years later, the Negro still is 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 a shameful 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, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked "insufficient funds." But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check — a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quick sands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children.
It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.
But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.
We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. They have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone."