The Peaks of Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” Speech

Author’s note: For the past couple years, I’ve been toiling away feverishly on a book titled, “A Colorado Mountain Companion,” scheduled to be released this spring by Pruett Publishing in Boulder. One of the chapters examines Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech, which is appropriate for the book, because it mentioned the Colorado Rockies specifically. With a respectful nod toward the recently past  Martin Luther King Day, I decided to revamp the chapter a bit and post it herein. On August 28, 1963, the Reverend Martin Luther King delivered what has come to be known as his “I Have A Dream” speech (1), justifiably considered one of the greatest examples of oration in American history. The speech was delivered to an estimated 250,000 people at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., during the March on Jobs and Freedom, one of the largest gatherings during the entire Civil Rights Movement. Dr. King went vertical as the speech reached its glorious crescendo: “So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania. Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado. Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California. But not only that—Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia. Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee. Let freedom ring from every hill and mole hill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring!” The rank of the mountains referenced directly or indirectly in Dr. King’s “I Have A Dream” speech are:

  1. Mount Whitney, California: 14,495 feet
  2. Mount Elbert, Colorado: 14,433 feet
  3. Mount Washington, New Hampshire: 6,288 feet
  4. Mount Marcy, New York: 5,344 feet
  5. Mount Davis, Pennsylvania: 3,213 feet
  6. Lookout Mountain, Tennessee: 2,146 feet
  7. Stone Mountain, Georgia: 1,680 feet
  8. Woodall Mountain, Mississippi: 806 feet

(1) Segments of the “I Have A Dream” speech, part of which was prepared and part of which was extemporaneous, were given a test drive by Dr. King in June 1963, when he delivered a speech incorporating some of the same sections in Detroit, where he marched on Woodward Avenue with Walter Reuther and the Reverend C.L. Franklin. He had reportedly rehearsed other segments of the speech previously. The “I Have A Dream” speech was embroiled in controversy on two occasions. First, there were allegations that King had plagiarized at least 20 percent of the speech—most of the last two minutes—from a speech delivered at the 1952 Republican National Convention by the Reverend Archibald Cary, Jr. Second, because King had distributed copies of his speech prior to its delivery at the Lincoln Memorial, its copyright status was in dispute for 36 years! In 1999, the civil case, Estate of Martin Luther King, Jr., Inc. versus CBS, Inc., was settled out of court with the understanding that the King estate owned the copyright for the speech. Sources: The idea for this section, as well as much of the information, came from peakbagger.com. The details of the speech came from Wikipedia.

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