A freezer full of pints of Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” Speech Is as Relevant Today as It Was in 1963

This Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, we’re taking a closer look at Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, which he delivered from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC, in 1963.

That speech is more than simply an important moment in history. Time has not diminished its power. In fact, because the struggle for racial equity is far from over, Dr. King’s speech remains an essential guide, a roadmap for our long journey to justice that’s just as relevant now as it was 60 years ago.

Here are some quotes that remain every bit as urgent today as they were when Martin Luther King, Jr. first uttered them—along with organizations you can follow to continue Dr. King’s fight for justice.

  1. Voting Rights

    “We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream."


    Almost 60 years after the Voting Rights Act was signed into law, Black communities across the nation still struggle for access to the ballot box because of voter-suppression tactics like: 

    • Voter ID laws

    • Restrictions on early and absentee voting

    • Disenfranchisement of people who have been convicted of a felony

    Voter-suppression efforts have had the exact impact that they were designed to have: Disproportionately disenfranchising Black voters and other voters of color.

    Black Voters Matter is an organization dedicated to increasing power in marginalized, predominantly Black communities. Join them in the fight to ensure that everyone’s voices can be heard on Election Day.

  2. Reparations

    “When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men — yes, Black men as well as white men — would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

    “It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked insufficient funds.”


    America was built with unpaid labor from enslaved Black people. That debt still stands. We must hold institutions and systems accountable for past and present injustices.

    Because of advocacy efforts from groups like our partners at the Racial Justice Coalition of Asheville, Asheville, NC, became one of the first cities in the nation to pay reparations to Black residents (in the form of funding programs that promote Black homeownership and career opportunities). Join the Racial Justice Coalition of Asheville in the movement for reparations and racial justice.

  3. Dismantling White Supremacy

    “There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, when will you be satisfied? We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities.

    “We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro's basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating: for whites only.”


    Black people in America know all too well that their bodily autonomy, dignity, and access to basic needs are determined in part by how much money they have the opportunity to make. And because of institutionalized and structural racism, Black communities have less access to wealth. A lot less. In fact, the average Black family’s total wealth is just 15% of that of a white family. We will never have true equality until Black communities have equitable access to wealth and economic power.

    The Movement for Black Lives pushes for racial justice and transformative cultural, political, and economic change. Join them in their work to end systemic racism and create institutions that “value and affirm the flourishing of Black lives.”

  4. Racial Justice

    “There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.”


    Systemic racism permeates every institution in our society, locking Black people and people of color out of essential spaces and denying them the recognition of their full humanity. If we want to achieve true racial justice, we need to dismantle systemic racism—and push back against the forces trying to keep it alive—NOW.

    Advancement Project is a multiracial civil rights organization that works for equality, justice, and a caring, inclusive, and just democracy. Support them today in their work to eliminate structural and systemic racism.

Take Action Now

Dr. King’s calls for racial and economic justice, for voting rights and an end to pervasive and systemic racism, ring out with the same force and clarity today as they did 60 years ago. Let’s be sure to listen—and then act.

Yes, Dr. King had a dream—and it’s up to all of us to make it a reality and continue his legacy.

Join our partners today in their work to ensure equity, safety, and justice for Black communities.