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MLK: Speech at the Great March on Detroit

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The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. leads a march to a rally in Detroit, Mich., June 23, 1963. (Francis Miller/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images)


Speech at the Great March on Detroit

The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. addressed an assembled crowd of thousands on June 23, 1963, in Detroit, Mich., just two months before the historic March on Washington. About 125,000 people gathered for what was, at that point, the largest single civil rights demonstration in American history. In a way, King's speech in Detroit served as a dry run for his upcoming speech in Washington; several passages in both appear largely similar. Overall, the message was one of urgency and the importance of continuing the civil rights movement's forward momentum.

Some of the standout passages:

The clock of destiny is ticking out, and we must act now before it is too late.

Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of racial justice. Now is the time to get rid of segregation and discrimination. Now is the time.

And so this social revolution taking place can be summarized in three little words. They are not big words. One does not need an extensive vocabulary to understand them. They are the words "all," "here," and "now." We want all of our rights, we want them here, and we want them now.

I submit to you that if a man has not discovered something that he will die for, he isn’t fit to live.

Read the full transcript here

View an edited hard copy at The King Center

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