In 1865 slavery was abolished and the “negroes” became free workers. However,

racial discrimination spread in the American society, because white Americans did
not accept them as equal. A system of racial segregation started. Black people
had to go to different schools, bars and cinemas from the white people. They had
different entrances to public places and different waiting rooms at stations or at
bus terminals. They had different park benches, train or restaurant seating and
even public toilets. They had difficulty in finding a job and had to live in black
neighborhoods. In the southern states the Jim Crow laws (1876-1965)
established racial segregation in all public facilities, with “separate but equal”
status for black Americans, who suffered economic, educational and social
In the 1950s the African-Americans challenged segregation and the black
Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. became the leader of the African-American Civil
Rights Movement. He was born in Atlanta, Georgia, on January 15, 1929. He
became a Baptist minister and a civil rights activist early in his career. In 1955 he
led the Montgomery Bus Boycott, following Rosa Park’s act of civil disobedience:
she was arrested because she refused to give up her seat on a bus to a white
man. On August 28, 1963 he led the March on Washington, where he delivered
his famous speech “I have a Dream”. In 1964 he became the youngest person to
receive the Nobel Peace Prize for his work to end racial segregation and racial
discrimination through civil disobedience and non-violent protest. He also
campaigned to end poverty and to stop the war against Vietnam. On April 4,
1968, as he was leaving his motel room in Memphis, Tennessee, he was shot and
Since then, the lives of American black people have improved and there is no
official segregation any more. However, in most American cities there are still
“black areas”, which are neighborhoods with a high concentration of black people.
Martin Luther King, Jr.’s speech I have a Dream
To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, on August
28, 1963 Martin Luther King, Jr. led the March on Washington. Over 200,000
people, African-Americans and whites, young and old, marched peacefully and
gathered in front of the Lincoln Memorial. On that occasion M.L.King delivered his
famous I have a Dream speech.
Curiosities: every year on the third Monday of January the Martin Luther King, Jr Day is celebrated in the USA. It
was established as a federal holiday in 1986. On this day American people celebrate his life and dream.

Curiosities: every year on the third Monday of January the Martin Luther King, Jr Day is celebrated in the USA. It
was established as a federal holiday in 1986. On this day American people celebrate his life and dream.

This is a passage from the speech “I have a Dream”

“I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.” I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.I have a 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.

I have a dream today. I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers. I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together. This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.”

The famous rock band U2 composed two songs on Martin Luther King in the
1980s: MLK and PRIDE. Here are the videos of these wonderful songs.

Read the text and answer the questions
write the answers in your excercise-book).

1. What happened in 1865?
2. Why did racial discrimination spread in the USA?
3. Who was Martin Luther King, Jr?
4. When did the March on Washington take place?
5. Why did he receive the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964?
6. Where was he on April 4, 1968?
7. What happened on that day?
8. Does official segregation still exist in the USA?
9. What are “black areas”?
10. A famous rock band wrote songs on Martin Luther King, what’s the band’s
name? And what are the titles of the two songs?