The Speech

The Story Behind Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s Dream (Updated Paperback Edition)

Fifty years later, the "I Have a Dream" speech endures as a defining moment in the Civil Rights movement. It continues to be heralded as a guiding light in the ongoing struggle for racial equality. This gripping book unearths the facts behind "The Speech," and the revealing events surrounding the march on Washington that drew thousands out to hear it.

About the author

GARY YOUNGE is an author, broadcaster, and award-winning columnist for the Guardian, based in Chicago. He also writes a monthly column for The Nation magazine and is the Alfred Knobler Fellow for The Nation Institute.

Born in Britain to Barbadian parents, Younge reported all over Europe, Africa, and the Caribbean before being appointed the Guardian’s US correspondent in 2003. In 2009 he won Britain’s prestigious James Cameron Award for “combined moral vision and professional integrity.”

His first book, No Place Like Home: A Black Briton’s Journey through the Deep South, was shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award. His third book, Who Are We—and Should It Matter in the 21st Century?, was shortlisted for the Bristol Festival of Ideas Book Prize. The Speech is his fourth book.


"[In] this slim but powerful book... Younge is adept at both distilling the facts and asking blunt questions."
—Boston Globe

"Unequivocal . . ."
—Financial Times

"[An] often highly entertaining saga of the clashing egos engaged in the drafting... [with] a compelling, beat-by-beat analysis of a myth's creation: King's delivery of 'the Speech' on the day."
—The Independent

"Younge provides new insight into the roles of key civil rights leaders in a captivating story that is eloquently written and punctuated with surprising detail. More importantly, the book sheds new light on Dr. King and paints him in a way that portrays the true grit and determination that stuck with him like the many followers he inspired and led."
—The Grio

"Martin Luther King's 1963 'I have a dream' speech was a thrilling milestone in the civil rights movement, so enduring that we tend to attribute its searing power to a kind of magic. But Gary Younge's meditative retrospection on its significance reminds us of all the micro-moments of transformation behind the scenes--the thought and preparation, vision and revision--whose currency fed that magnificent lightning bolt in history."
—Patricia J. Williams