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"I Have a Dream" speech still engrained in the heart of America 50 years later

Jess Smith

Fifty years later Dr. King's speech still impacts America

Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech turns 50-years-old today

The “I Have a Dream” speech still resonates in people’s hearts and minds as Martin Luther King’s stunning words turns 50 years old. Given at the Lincoln Memorial during the peak of the Civil Rights Movement, Martin Luther King pushed America in the right direction with his brave words of wisdom, courage and perseverance. Now five decades later, a man of African American descent now resides in the Oval Office as the current president of the United States.

Obama is still impacted by this speech and touched on the subject in a radio interview he did on Tuesday. “When you are talking about Dr. King’s speech at the March on Washington, you’re talking about one of the maybe five greatest speeches in American history.” He added, “And the words that he spoke at that particular moment with so much at stake, and the way in which he captured the hopes and dreams of an entire generation I think is unmatched.”

Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech is probably one the most memorized speeches; however, you will not be seeing this speech being reprinted or aired in it’s entirety due to the 1909 Copyright Act. King gained rights to the speech after he sent a copy of it to the U.S. copyright office. On it he wrote “work not produced for sale.” Shortly after sending the “I Have a Dream” speech to the copyright office, King sued two publishing companies, Mister Maestro Inc and Twentieth Century Fox Records Company to stop sales that were unauthorized.

Since the “I Have a Dream” speech was born, Dr. Martin Luther King’s estate currently has strict control over using the speech and using Dr. King’s image. The only way people can use the speech or his likeness until the speech is in the public domain in 2038 is to pay for a licensing fee. Excerpts of the speech can still be considered fair use of the material, but what “fair use” entails is all up to King’s estate.

Regardless of being able to use the full speech, there are many ways that Americans will remember this landmark time in history. Freedom will ring all around the U.S., when churches in nearly 300 sites in every state will ring church bells at 3 p.m. EDT, which was the exact hour that the “I Have a Dream” speech was given.

President Obama will speak at the “Let Freedom Ring” commemoration today, during this 50th year anniversary of the civil rights march.  In addition to President Barack Obama, speakers for this historical event includes: Former President Jimmy Carter, Former President Bill Clinton, Oprah Winfrey, Forest Whitaker and Jamie Foxx.

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