• Prompts for MLK’s “I Have a Dream” [due by end of day Mon, Oct 5]

What is the dream he argues for in this famous speech?

How is his dream related to “the American Dream”?

What is “the American Dream” to you?

How has “the American Dream” been defined in recent US history and popular culture? (Do a quick Google or other web search for context.)

What do you make of this speech in light of the 1965 debate between James Baldwin and William F. Buckley on the question, “Has the American Dream come at the expense of ‘the American Negro'”?

13 thoughts on “• Prompts for MLK’s “I Have a Dream” [due by end of day Mon, Oct 5]

  1. 1. King champions actual freedom for “American Negroes” as opposed to nominal freedom.

    2. The American Dream is one of self-determined self-sufficiency. King’s dream is of complete independence upon American Whites, and thus self-sufficiency as well.

    3. My “American Dream” is building a business that runs more efficiently and profitably without me around than it did when I was building and running it.

    4. Given the ubiquity of the internet and technology, anyone can gain massive and far-reaching exposure for self-promotion. Upward mobility is still a component of the dream, but in modern society there are far more lateral transitions on the path, more emphasis on the individual rather than the organization.

    5. “The American Negro” can serve as a metaphor for Hebrew slaves, African slaves, foreign child labor, and cheap immigrant labor. Many great businesses, ideas, and empires were built and sustained with tremendous help from “The American Negro.” Early American politicians, robber barons, and industrialists made “American Dream” fortunes that provided for generations of families.

  2. 1. I believe that the most outstanding idea conveyed in his speech was one that included all Americans in a future of Equality.

    2. The opportunities were skewed in favor of the whites. King sought to realize, or at least convey, a more altruistic reality of the American Dream.
    In some ways, more American than the whites. The whites refused the blacks opportunity. Americans refusing Americans equal opportunity. Americans refusing Americans the American Dream.

    3. Equal OPPORTUNITY to Success.

    4. Here is what the Library of Congress tells provides for teachers to tell children: “James Truslow Adams, in his book The Epic of America, which was written in 1931, stated that the American dream is ‘that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement. It is a difficult dream for the European upper classes to interpret adequately, and too many of us ourselves have grown weary and mistrustful of it. It is not a dream of motor cars and high wages merely, but a dream of social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position.’ (p.214-215)”

    Keep in mind this is for the teachers to somehow transpose onto a young mind.

    5. The American Dream comes at the expense of all who participated in the American society and indirectly from those involved with us internationally or economically.
    I believe the issue is more specific than that.
    “Has the American Dream come [WITHOUT FAIR COMPENSATION] for the American Negro?”
    After all the Federal Government can not take your property for the “public” without compensating the owner fairly.
    So why would SOME of us reap the benefits of another group’s blood sweat and tears without giving them a fair share of the benefits. That is borderline slavery… unless it is already slavery…

  3. 1) In MLK’S famous I Have a Dream Speech, he eloquently and powerfully argues that nearly 100 years later, after the Emancipation of Proclamation, signed by Lincoln, blacks were still not free in that segregation and racism still plagued the United States. Further, King describes the deplorable state of being that blacks lived in. For instance, he states that, “the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. And so we’ve come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.” I found this entirely thought provoking and interesting when King deliberately says “his own land.” America was built on the backs of slaves—literally speaking. Slaves were chattel and property. Additionally, he argues for equality in that blacks should be treated by their character and not by their skin color.

    2) His dream is related to “the American Dream” because it is one that is based on hard work, sweat, and character. For instance, if you work hard enough, regardless of where you come from, social or ethnic background, you can become someone important. Essentially, that America is a meritocracy.

    3) The American Dream to me is similar to MLK’s. I’d like to believe that one’s hard work eventually pays off. That if one works/studies/does what one is “suppose” to do, that it will be rewarded in material wealth. It doesn’t matter if your last name isn’t Bush, Kennedy, or Vanderbilt. If you want it badly enough, you will do whatever to achieve it because there is always that hope.

    4) The American dream has been defined in recent US history and popular culture as nothing but material wealthy. Owning the latest car, having the biggest home, being able to afford nice vacations, going to the best school. That is the American dream in present day. It isn’t about just owning your own home (regardless of how big or small it is) but everything has to be the best and the biggest, unfortunately.

  4. 1. MLK dreams of future where race bars no one from co-existing happily with one another. A future of peace and prosperity no mater the color of you skin.

    2. The american dream is to be free , right in the constitution it says we’re “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”. MLK’s dream is for that to be fully realized, not just for white people but by every citizen in the united states no matter the race.

    3. You know the whole house with a white picket fence thing that some people idolize? Well it wasnt really that, i always felt like the american dream was just about true freedom if that’s a thing. i see it as being able to settle down wherever you want with whomever you want ( within in reason of course) and just live your life the way you want to. There was a book that really set that in for me by the tittle of ” Illusions; the adventures of a reluctant mesiah”. It’s message was really about just doing what you WANT to do not what others want you to do. so the american dream for me has become the idea that i can go see the entire country, heck travel the world even, and just be at liberty to enjoy a life where i can make a living and live happily with whomever i take along for the ride. It’s ever changing however so who knows what it’ll be for me in 5-10 years from now.

    4. If the american dream before was freedom, now its Freedom and wealth. Many people see the gathering of possessions and displays of wealth as the end goal now a days. They want a mansion with in ground pool with a 6 figure income and all the trimmings. Its become materialistic, especially in pop culture where most music is geared to popping bottles and hitting the club. Well you can’t say everyone subscribes to the idea but its all to common now.

    5. The speech seems to support the idea that the american dream was in the expense of the american negro. They helped build up america and saw it prosper without the being able to enjoy many of the benefits that came with it.

  5. 1. MLK’s dream it is for all men being black or white could live together in peace as equals.

    2. I believe his dream is the summary of the original American dream, the unalienable rights, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness being delayed by hatred and racism for almost two centuries.

    3. The American dream to me it is the promise of freedom, which allows you to be who you want to be, live where you want to live and pursue and reach whatever dream you put your mind and soul into it, regardless of your creed, skin color, gender or place of origin.

    4. The American dream has been usually defined as material prosperity.

    5. I would say yes, there was a time that the American dream came at the expense of the “American negro”, although I feel this dream has also come at the expense of immigrants. At the time of slavery, people made money having free laborers, when slavery became illegal, the American dream came at the expense of cheap labor, therefore immigrants have been a big part of the construction of the “American dream”

  6. 1 .Martin Luther King argues that he dreams of a day where there is no more racism and African Americans are equal to everyone else.
    2. His dream relates to the “American Dream” because he was arguing for equal opportunity and rights for African Americans. The “American Dream” was freedom and equality which was contingent on race at the time.
    3. There is no real “American Dream” to me. Everyone creates there own path and there are so many other variables that can define one’s “American Dream.”
    How has “the American Dream” been defined in recent US history and popular culture? (Do a quick Google or other web search for context.)
    4. As American culture and history change so does “the American Dream.” Today “the American Dream” is self obsessed, and money hungry.
    5. According to the speech the American Dream has come at the expense of the American Negro. They lacked equality and were fighting for the American Dream.

  7. 1) MLK speaks for the American dream to be available to all people living, nomatter race, gender, or economic status. He speaks for those who with these characteristics, will be able to reach their american dream, to atleast have the chance to reach for that dream. In this time, the american dream was freedom and true equaility.

    2)His dream relates to the ”American Dream” because in this time, Blacks were only given what seemed to be freedom and equaility. Those privilages were only determined by your skin color, which was the opposite of what America the land of the free was promoting. He wanted everyone to have a chance to be someone nomatter where you came from.

    3) The “American Dream” to me is just a phrase used to make Americans feel like they need to accomplish something in life what will make them stand out, or feel like they did somethinf for their country, “I accomplished THE AMERICAN DREAM”, but what does that even mean?! What does it specifically look like?! No one knows because everyones idea of it is different. Mine might be to be successful and live in Manhattan with my husband and only have 2 kids. While someone elses is to grow old alone accomplishing thier self goals. Or someones might be to start a family When they are 20. Everyones goals and plans are different. Thier is no “American Dream” because we are all actually immigrants with different views of what are dreams should be.

  8. 1) Martin Luther King dreams of a day where there will be true equality for blacks in the USA. Martin Luther King dreams of such a day because in his time blacks were discriminated against and not given the rights they deserved from the constitution, the government, or the white Americans in the country.

    2) MLK’s speech is related to the American dream because during his time it appears that although blacks were legally allowed rights, they weren’t given equal opportunity for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. MLK argues that him and his fellow African American brothers were cheated out of such rights.

    3) To me the American dream is exactly what people come here for: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness which refers to the freedoms that all humans deserve as well as equal opportunity of success for all.
    4) The American dream in recent history has been primarily based on wealth and what kind of status people have. It appears that since the recession, this form of American dream has changed to something based more around simpler values such as having self-worth, happiness, friends, and strong family ties.

    5) In the 1965 debate it claims that the American dream came at the expense of the American Negro. Perhaps this is true, but it would only apply to the Americans before the civil war, because back then white Americans had slaves to do labor for them while they could reap all the benefits of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

  9. 1) What is the dream he argues for in this famous speech?
    MLK argues for the American dream to be available to the Negros as well the white American. He argues that the government has not been fair to them and has not followed its own rules of the constitution that all men are in fact created equal. Negros will not be happy until they have eliminated all aspects of racism towards them, and the small freedom they have been given is not enough.

    2) How is his dream related to “the American Dream”?
    America claims to be land of the free, but really it’s only free to those whose skin color is acceptable. MLK wants basic freedoms for Negros and opportunities to live a good life the way all other Americans do. This is part of the American dream, being free in this country and having the opportunity to be someone no matter where you come from or what religion you practice.

    3) What is “the American Dream” to you?
    To me “the American Dream” is a term that is so broad and so generic that it has no real meaning anymore. We were raised on the belief that if you do good in school, go to a good college, you will find a good job and get married one day and afford a nice little home somewhere. But this isn’t true anymore, the world is all about whom you know, not who is better qualified for the job. And even if you go to a good college, the competition is so fierce you are most likely not going to find a job in the field you wished to work in.

    4) How has “the American Dream” been defined in recent US history and popular culture? (Do a quick Google or other web search for context.)
    The American Dream has been defined as the ideal that every US citizen should have an equal opportunity to achieve success and prosperity through hard work, determination, and initiative.

    5) What do you make of this speech in light of the 1965 debate between James Baldwin and William F. Buckley on the question, “Has the American Dream come at the expense of ‘the American Negro’”?
    I think the original people who coined the term of the American Dream never intended it to be available to anyone except white people. MLK uses the words of the constitution throughout his speech. But has he forgotten that those same fathers were also slave owners and incorporated rules such as the 3/5s law for slaves? James Baldwin had it right 100% in my book. The American Dream was built on the back of Negro Slaves.

  10. Martin Luther King paints a picture of a dream where no racial inequality exists. The idea of any racial difference disappears. Everyone understands that as long as you are man, you were created with equal potential. The American dream is one where people live in harmony and can coexist in a productive way. The American dream to me is to live out my freedom as an American citizen, raise a family, and be successful economically, socially, and personally. In recent US history and popular culture, the American dream was one of peace, freedom, and equality. Capitalism was at the root of American culture, and being a successful business man was part of the popular ideology of the American dream.

    In the argument of whether the American dream came at the expense of the “American Negro” is true according to popular perception of the dream being pure of racial pollution; however, the common belief evolves over time and now the American dream is irrelevant to race. The conception of the American dream is relative to evolving societies, and therefore, racial distinction will disappear.

  11. The dream Dr. King argues for in this famous speech is for the future world to be able to break down the walls of hate and racism that were in existence and for all men to be truly equal for the sake of his children’s futures.
    His dream is related to “the American Dream” in that it promotes and focuses on the hoping for opportunity.
    “The American Dream” to me is having opportunity to pursue any career, form of happiness, or belief system they work to achieve.
    According to Vanity Fair, “the American Dream” in 2015 is about giving your kids a better life than you had through education.
    The connection between Dr. King’s speech and the 1965 debate is that they both have central themes around an “American Dream”. It is hard to say if “the American Dream” came at the expense of “the American Negro”.

  12. The dream MLK argues for in his speech is the fulfillment of the promise, the American Constitution and declaration of independence made, which was to provide equality for all men. The American dream at this time was for peace, freedom and equality. The American dream to me is establish a fulfilling career, adequate income, an education, a respectable savings for retirement, to own property and a house, a nice car. The acquisition of money is the root of the American Dream today. The American dream has been mourned as it has been declared dead numerous times the past few years including during Donald Trump’s candidacy for president.

    Based on the dream that MLK spoke about for a better future, the American dream in the eyes of MLK had never fully come to fruition. If there is no American Dream in 2015 given the black lives matter movements and other racially themed issues, the question at hand, “Has the American Dream come at the expense of the ‘American Negro'” cannot be answered.

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