Martin Luther King Jr. Poem

Martin Luther King, Jr. Poem for Choral Reading (Readers Theatre)
by Joan Nichols

All: Thousands strong, we came together. Martin Luther king, Jr., spoke to us, saying, "I have a dream."

All girls: We listened, remembering our Dreams.

All boys: Bad dreams.

All: Nightmares. Martin Luther King spoke,

Boy: "I have a dream that one day this nation
will rise up and live out the true meaning of its' creed:

All boys: We hold these truths to be Self-evident; all men are created Equal."

All: We listened, remembering.

Girl: I remember a hot summer day and a swimming pool laughing children splashed in the cool water. I pointed to the sign by the gate
and asked, "What does that say?"

All girls: WHITES ONLY!

Girl: Learning those words was easy. They were all over town-In store windows

All girls: WHITES ONLY!

Girl: In city parks

All girls: WHITES ONLY

All: Martin Luther king spoke,

Girl: "I have a dream
That one day...sons of
Former slave owners will be
Able to sit down together at
The table of brotherhood."

All: We listened, remembering.

Boy: I remember going to the movies.
Black people couldn't enter
The front door or sit
Downstairs like white people
Did. Black people had a
Special side door that led
To the back balcony-
The "colored" section.

Boy: On buses, the first rows
Were for white people.
If those seats were empty and
The rest of the bus was full,
Black people had to stand.
If the first rows were full
And more people got on
The bus, blacks had to get up
So whites could sit.

All: Martin Luther King spoke,
"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."

All: We listened, remembering.

Girl: I remember my friend, Nancy. Together, we searched for caterpillars, looked at picture books, dressed our dolls. Giggled. One day they told us, "You can't play together anymore.
Black children and white children can't be friends."

All: Martin Luther King spoke,

Boy: "I have a dream
That one day little black boys
And little black girls
Will be able to join hands
With little white boys and white
Girls and walk together as
Brothers and sisters.
I have a dream today."

All: Dr. King led the Montgomery Bus boycott.

Girl: One day, Mrs. Rosa Parks boarded a city bus in Montgomery, Alabama.
She was tired.
She sat down.

Boy: "Get up," the bus driver said. "Give this white man a seat."

Girl: Mrs Parks said,

All: "No!"

Boy: When Mrs. Parks was arrested, Dr. King told the people of
Montgomery that if Blacks couldn't ride the buses with freedom and dignity,
they shouldn't ride at all.

All: And so they walked.
Men and women, boys and girls,
Through rain and cold,
For months and months,
For miles and miles,
They walked.

Girl: The boycott was a success. Now blacks and whites ride the
buses together, as equals.

All: Martin Luther King, Jr., led the Birmingham marches. After the adults were put in jail, he called upon the children.

Girl: The children marched.
A thousand strong.
Some were only six years old.
Police arrested them.
School buses carried them to jail.
A policeman looked down at one
Small girl and asked,
"What do you want?"
She looked at him and said,

All girls: "Freedom."

Girl: Nothing could stop those children.
On the way to jail they chanted,

All: We want freedom!
We want freedom!
We want freedom!

Boy: The children marched.
They prayed.
They wouldn't turn back.
The police, the firemen
Stood waiting.
Orders were given:
"Stop those children
Any way you can."
But the police, the
Firemen fell back.
And the children marched through.
No one stopped them.
No one hurt them.
The children sang,

All: "I got freedom."
Martin Luther King spoke.
And we listened, for he was
Saying, what we needed to hear.

All boys: "Let freedom ring!"

All girls: From the prodigious hilltops
Of New Hampshire.

All boys: Let freedom ring!

All girls: From the heightening Alleghanies of Pennsylvania!

All boys: Let freedom ring!

All girls: From the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado.

All boys: Let freedom ring!

All girls: From the curvaceous slopes of California.

Boy: And when we allow freedom
To ring.
When we let it ring from
Every village and hamlet,
From every state and every city,
We will be able to speed up that
Day when all God's children,
Black men and white men,
Jews and Gentiles,
Protestants and Catholics,
Will be able to join hands
And sing in the words of that
Old Negro spiritual,

All: "Free at last! Free at last!
Thank God almighty,
We are free at last.

The quoted words of Martin Luther King, Jr., are from the speech he gave at the March on Washington, August 28, 1963.

"History has thrust upon our generation an indescribably important destiny-to complete a process of democratization which our nation has too long developed too slowly. How we deal with this crucial situation will determine our moral health as individuals, our cultural health as a region, our political health as a nation, and our prestige as a leader of the free world."
-MLK, 1958

Use as a readers theatre play to celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. day in January.

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