On August 28, 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous speech, “I Have a Dream,” in which he reaffirmed the principles and promises of the Declaration of Independence.
Noting that “One hundred years [after Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation] the life of the Negro is still badly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination”—manacles and chains entrenched by law—King said:
In a sense we've come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men—yes, black men as well as white men—would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Here, King stood on the shoulders of the Founding Fathers and called for consistency to the principles on which they established America. . . .