Books: Non-Fiction

The Speech: The Story Behind Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Dream

Book — Non-fiction (updated edition). By Gary Younge. 2023. 215 pages.
Chronicle behind "The Speech" and other events surrounding the March on Washington.
Time Periods: 1961
Themes: Civil Rights Movements

book cover in sepia showing Martin Luther King Jr. giving a speech at a microphoneMartin Luther King Jr. delivered his powerful speech on August 28, 1963. Sixty years later, the speech endures as a defining moment in the Civil Rights Movement and remains a beacon in the ongoing struggle for racial equality.

This gripping book tells the story behind “The Speech” and sheds light on other key moments of the March on Washington, drawing on interviews with Clarence Jones, a close friend of and draft speechwriter for Martin Luther King Jr.; Joan Baez, who sang at the march; as well as Angela Davis and other leading civil rights luminaries.

Now with a new introduction to mark the 60th anniversary of that historic day in Washington, The Speech offers an essential analysis of King’s words at a moment of urgent reckoning and renewed calls for justice and liberation. [Adapted from publisher’s description.]

ISBN: 9781642599619 | Haymarket Books

Gary Younge’s meditative retrospection on [the speech’s] 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

Interview with Gary Younge on Democracy Now!


Read transcript | Visit Democracy Now!