‘I Have a Dream’ is MLK’s most radical speech — not because of what he said then, but because of how America has changed since

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By John Blake, CNN

Dr. King in front of a crowd
Civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. waves to supporters on August 28, 1963, on the Mall in Washington. (AFP/Getty Images)

As the nation celebrates the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s national holiday, millions of Americans will once again hear what has become the day’s unofficial soundtrack: King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

The speech King gave 60 years ago in Washington has been endlessly replayed, dissected and misquoted. It’s his most famous speech. But here’s another way to look at it:

It is also the most radical speech King ever delivered.

[…]

Forget the nonthreatening version of the speech you’ve been taught that emphasizes King’s benign vision of Black, White and brown Americans living in blissful racial harmony.

[…]

The concept of integration that King evoked in his “I Have a Dream” speech is the most “radical, discomfiting and transformative” idea in US politics, adds Baker, a novelist and professor at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York.

Blake has more to say about Dr. King’s radical speech.

King was a significant player in the Civil Rights movement but far from the only one.

More stories about people who fought for racial equality.

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