Martin Luther King spoke at over 2,500 public events and delivered up to 450 speeches per year, but no one really knows how many speeches he gave. Scholars disagree over what distinguishes his speeches from his sermons or lectures and whether unanticipated remarks, commentaries and discussions constitute a speech.
King often intermixed his words with those of others, previous speeches and sermons. He sometimes broke into extemporaneous preaching during speeches and abandoned his prepared speeches entirely. His most famous speech, the “I Have a Dream” speech, delivered during the March on Washington in 1963, was a combination of extemporaneous thoughts, previous sermons, Bible verses and passages from Shakespeare and other speakers. King began delivering this speech after the one he had prepared failed to elicit enthusiasm from the audience of more than 250,000 people.