Teach Dr. King’s Speech

Each year, as part of Georgetown University’s MLK: “Let Freedom Ring!” Initiative, the Center for Social Justice encourages members of our community to reflect on one of Dr. King’s famous speeches via Teach the Speech. Over the years, faculty, staff, and students across campus have participated in Teach the Speech events focusing on a wide range of speeches by Dr. King.

In 2022, the Georgetown community is invited to focus on Dr. King’s hallmark speech “I Have a Dream”.” In addition, all are invited to join (either in person or on Zoom) the January 11 Teach the Speech Teach-In, featuring three mini-keynote addresses as well as a dialogue with the speakers.

For the Spring 2022 semester, we are focusing on Dr. King’s I Have a Dream speech. This choice may seem cliche or obvious, but the committee was inspired by our 2017 keynote speaker – Dr. Ibram Kendi – who, in his recent article in The Atlantic bemoaned the “second assassination” of King: 

The sniper shots aimed at King’s body of work sound this way almost every time. His modern-day assassins endlessly recite King’s “dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character”—as if that was all King said during his 1963 March on Washington speech. They disregard the lines before and after it, when King lamented that his dream was being thwarted by “vicious racists” in places “sweltering with the heat of oppression.” They disregard King’s paraphrase of his iconic “dream” line in 1965: that “one day all of God’s Black children will be respected like his white children.” They disregard King’s recognition that the civil-rights movement did not end racism, leading him to tell an NBC News correspondent on May 8, 1967, that the “dream that I had [in 1963] has at many points turned into a nightmare.” (Ironically, it was this nightmare of post-civil-rights racial inequality that caused legal scholars in the 1970s to develop critical race theory in law schools, particularly to study and reveal the law’s role in the maintenance of inequality.)

Dr. Ibram X. Kendi

See previous year’s Teach the Speech events and keynote speakers below.

  • 2013: “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”
  • 2014: 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom
  • 2015: “The Other America”
  • 2016: Dr. King’s Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance Speech
  • 2017: “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break the Silence”
  • 2018: “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop”
  • 2019: “Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution”
  • 2020: “Where do we go from here?”
  • 2021: “Our God is Marching On”
  • 2022: “I Have a Dream”