Who Wrote the Text of Martin Luther King's Most Famous Speech?


Quick Answer

Martin Luther King drafted the text of his most famous speech with his assistants Wyatt Walker, Stanley Levison and Clarence Jones, but composed much of it as he spoke. King's “I Have a Dream” speech is his most famous and contains text from King's earlier speeches and from other texts.

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Full Answer

Speaking from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, King delivered this speech on August 28, 1963 at the March on Washington D.C. King received a mediocre response from the crowd of nearly 250,000 toward the end of his prepared text, prompting gospel singer Mahalia Jackson to urge King to “tell them about the dream." King began speaking extemporaneously and delivered the most famous part of the speech, which aides had discouraged him from repeating. The speech contains text from speeches given by Archibald Carey Jr. in 1952 and Prathia Hall in 1962. Other portions contain text from the Bible, Shakespeare’s play “Richard III” and Samuel Francis Smith’s hymn “America.”

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