Cover image for I have a dream
I have a dream
Publication Information:
New York : Scholastic Press, c1997.
Physical Description:
40 p. : color illustrations.
Reading Level:
1130 L Lexile


Material Type
Call Number
Item Available
Book Q J 323.4 KIN 0 1

On Order



Author Notes

Martin Luther King, Jr. was born on January 15, 1929 into a middle-class black family in Atlanta, Georgia. He received a degree from Morehouse College. While there his early concerns for social justice for African Americans were deepened by reading Henry David Thoreau's essay "Civil Disobedience." He enrolled in Crozer Theological Seminary and there became acquainted with the Social Gospel movement and the works of its chief spokesman, Walter Rauschenbusch. Mohandas Gandhi's practice of nonviolent resistance (ahimsaahimsa) later became a tactic for transforming love into social change.

After seminary, he postponed his ministry vocation by first earning a doctorate at Boston University School of Theology. There he discovered the works of Reinhold Niebuhr and was especially struck by Niebuhr's insistence that the powerless must somehow gain power if they are to achieve what is theirs by right. In the Montgomery bus boycott, it was by economic clout that African Americans broke down the walls separating the races, for without African American riders, the city's transportation system nearly collapsed.

The bus boycott took place in 1954, the year King and his bride, Coretta Scott, went to Montgomery, where he had been called to serve as pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church. Following the boycott, he founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) to coordinate civil rights organizations. Working through African American churches, activists led demonstrations all over the South and drew attention, through television and newspaper reports, to the fact that nonviolent demonstrations by blacks were being suppressed violently by white police and state troopers. The federal government was finally forced to intervene and pass legislation protecting the right of African Americans to vote and desegregating public accommodations. For his nonviolent activism, King received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964.

While organizing a "poor people's campaign" to persuade Congress to take action against poverty, King accepted an invitation to visit Memphis, Tennessee, where sanitation workers were on strike. There, on April 4, 1968, he was gunned down while standing on the balcony of his hotel.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 6

Publisher's Weekly Review

King's most famous speech is handsomely interpreted in this lavish volume, which pairs his stirring words with illustrations by 15 Coretta Scott King Award- or Honor-winning artists. Taking as their inspiration King's timeless message, delivered at the famous March on Washington in the summer of 1963, the artists weigh in with an eclectic exhibit that, thanks largely to a simple but elegant book design, succeeds as a unified whole. Whether the medium is Leo and Diane Dillon's subtly plied acrylics, Ashley Bryan's playful tempera and gouaches or Brian Pinkney's distinctive scratchboard and watercolors, whether the scene depicts the "unspeakable horrors of police brutality," the degradation heaped upon those engaged in passive resistance or a symbolic feast at the "table of brotherhood," the pages flow like shifting set designs, each one illuminating a segment of King's speech. The result is an uplifting glimpse at a pivotal moment in 20th-century history, the impact made more personal by the different artists' heartfelt interpretations. A thumbnail biography of King is included, along with a brief afterword by each artist describing symbolic elements in his or her illustration. All ages. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Horn Book Review

In superlative oil paintings, Nelson brings to life Dr. Kings most famous speech, and the one children are most likely to know. Nelson has chosen to illustrate the section that specifically addresses the dream, beginning with the words "I say to you today, my friends, that even though we face the difficulty of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream." The accompanying illustration depicts Dr. King standing in front of the Lincoln Memorial, addressing the crowd at the March on Washington. The pages that follow show scenes from the event as well as more literal illustrations of Dr. Kings words: black children and white children playing together, a black hand clasping a white hand, and his own "four little children." When we reach the climactic "Let freedom ring..." part of the speech, two gorgeous double-page spreads show interconnected panels of the "prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire" and the "snowcapped Rockies of Colorado," ultimately linked with "every hill and molehill of Mississippi," in a sweeping vista. At the end, we return to a larger-than-life close-up of Dr. Kings impassioned face, the hopeful faces of the audience, and finally white doves flying against a blue sky, representing the words "Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!" The complete text of the speech is printed at the back of the book, and an accompanying CD is also included [unseen]. Visually, this is a stunning accomplishment that embodies the thrilling inspiration of Dr. Kings words as he first spoke them. kathleen t. horning (c) Copyright 2012. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Booklist Review

Gr. 4^-8. Every year when Dr. King's birthday rolls around and during Black History month, short clips from the "I Have a Dream" speech are played and replayed--always the same few sentences presented together with grainy black-and-white images. This new book, which beautifully evokes feelings of hope as well as despair, not only gives readers the opportunity to experience the eloquent speech in its entirety but also to see it anew through the eyes of 15 African American artists who have won the Coretta Scott King Award or received a Coretta Scott King honor book designation. Each artist depicts a portion of the story of the civil rights movement or his or her vision of the meaning of a section of the speech, thus bringing new perspective to Dr. King's words. On the jacket painting, by Leo and Diane Dillon, Dr. King, who is looking toward the sun, stands next to figures holding scales and a gavel, representing equality and justice; King's words about suffering and police brutality are illustrated by Tom Feelings' depiction of a woman covering her eyes in sorrow; and James Ransome shows African Americans and whites together at a long picnic table, the "table of brotherhood." A foreword by Coretta Scott King, a brief biography of Dr. King, and notes from the artists about their contributions round out the book, which clearly reminds us why the rolling, powerful text remains one of the landmarks of American political writing. --Susan Dove Lempke

New York Review of Books Review

BEFORE I picked up "Hand in Hand: Ten Black Men Who Changed America," I moderated a panel called "When Work Disappears," comprising an interracial group of lawyers, economists and a journalist turned television producer. And on the whole, the opinions and evidence we shared left the audience, as well as myself, in a "slough of despond." Every aspect painted a bleak picture of African-Americans, including the tragic status of children living in poverty (38 percent); schools ill-equipped to meet students' most basic needs; the disproportionate numbers in prison, most on relatively minor charges; and a rate of unemployment double that of whites. In short: The American dream for African-Americans - especially young men - is for now and the foreseeable future an American nightmare. With this in mind, I read the preface to "Hand in Hand," which begins, in part, Gripped iron courage to withstand: Degradation Segregation Humiliation Hard frustration. The author, Andrea Davis Pinkney, who is also a poet, explains that what motivated her to write the book was not least her despair over "ignorant stereotyping of black males" and "the negative impact this has, especially on boys who are developing their self-image." "Even in its subtlest forms," she says, "this 'bad press' can stitch a corrosive thread into a kid's psyche and cause him to believe he is inferior or flawed. Once this belief is established, it can be hard to turn around." In her brief but uplifting accounts of 10 black men - Benjamin Banneker, Frederick Douglass, W.E.B. Du Bois, Booker T. Washington, A. Philip Randolph, Thurgood Marshall, Jackie Robinson, Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X and Barack Obama - Pinkney draws lessons aimed at unstitching that "corrosive thread." And she demonstrates in a variety of ways how black men with challenges as great as, if not greater than, those young black men face today beat the odds and used their talents to help others. Some, like Frederick Douglass, felt the lash of enslavers but refused to be "broken," becoming a powerful force to end slavery. Similarly, Booker T. Washington grew up in a slave cabin, eating leftover slop fed to pigs, and often went to sleep hungry. But when he was nearly 6 years old and made to carry the books of children of the white family his mother worked for, he lingered under the classroom window, taking in what was being taught from those books. "It was like a breeze on a hot-as-blazes day. Booker couldn't help but let it blow." It took a long time, but that breeze eventually carried Washington through school and to the Tuskegee Institute, one of the first colleges for African-Americans in the country. Pinkney also provides details of Thurgood Marshall's early years when he was a cutup in school; for punishment, he was often sent to the school basement, forced each time to learn a passage of the Constitution. Marshall eventually channeled that energy and accumulated knowledge into the fight for equality. He went on to become the driving force behind the Supreme Court's Brown decision in 1954 that paved the way for thousands of black children, including me, to get an education equal to that of whites. Martin Luther King is one of the few heroes most young people know from the civil rights movement. But Pinkney describes some of the lesser-known factors that helped shape his consciousness, including his being forced to travel 90 miles standing in a bus after giving up his seat to whites. It was through education that all 10 men not only survived but conquered. For many of them, however, education didn't always come in the traditional ways. Sometimes it was with the help of family, especially black mothers. For example, Banneker was born free, but had no formal schooling. His grandmother taught him to read the only book she owned, the Bible. "Benjamin learned everything from the begats to the Beatitudes. And by reciting all 150 psalms, Benjamin discovered he could count." He went on to "master the sky's mysteries," ultimately creating a widely heralded farmer's almanac "with everything that was essential to a farmer's success." At the other extreme, Pinkney profiles Detroit Red, a young criminal who used and sold drugs, stole from people and experienced the stink and isolation of a prison cell. But with positive mentors in and out of prison who stressed salvation, Detroit Red became Malcolm X, one of the country's most powerful voices for self-worth and black pride. The rest of the stories in this beautifully written book are equally fascinating, and the entire volume is movingly enhanced by poetry and by the inviting, creative illustrations of Brian Pinkney, the author's husband. Pinkney writes how difficult it was to choose the 10 men for this volume, and I wish she had included at least one of the younger giants of the civil rights movement, many of whom are unknown to today's generation but who were the movement's "shock troops." Still, "Hand in Hand" provides a light that could help guide men out of the darkness in which all too many are forced to live. "Unspoken: A Story From the Underground Railroad," by Henry Cole, can be described as "a wordless Civil War story," designed to present youngsters with a moral choice. A slim volume of charcoal drawings, the book follows a white child living with her folks on a farm in what is clearly the Confederate South. Slaves are escaping their captivity via secret routes to the North. One day, as the protagonist is going about her chores, she is startled to hear noises in the corn crib and soon sees an eye peering at her through the stalks. She runs away, frightened. But eventually, confronted with the choice of turning in a runaway slave or helping him, she stealthily smuggles him food. Cole leaves the narrative to the imagination. What would you do if you had a chance to help a person find freedom? I'm not sure why the only black representation is an eye looking through a hole. But the author, a former teacher, clearly intended "Unspoken" to be a challenging book, its somber sepia tone drawings establishing a mood of foreboding. For younger readers, the book presumes adult guidance. "I Have a Dream" is one of Martin Luther King's most enduring speeches, made at the historic March on Washington in 1963. It was a march for jobs and freedom for black Americans, and Dr. King's eloquent speech took these causes to another level, as he appealed for justice, unity and brotherhood. In soft earth tones, but sometimes in larger-than-life depictions, the award-winning illustrator Kadir Nelson drives home the message for children of all ages. When Dr. King talks about the "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," Nelson features on one of the pages two black boys in suits and ties, with similar warm facial expressions, followed on the next page by two appealing black girls in their Sunday school best. Another page shows black and white children in a ring-around-the-rosie scene to illustrate that one day "little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers." The book includes a DVD of King's speech and, for younger readers, will require adult context-setting and guidance. The book ends with a flock of doves at King's finale - "Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!" - driving home in a creative and accessible way the powerful message, and keeping it alive today. It endures as a refrain we need in our continuing struggle for freedom, justice equality. Charlayne Hunter-Gault is a former correspondent for CNN, NPR and PBS. Her most recent book is "To the Mountaintop: My Journey Through the Civil Rights Movement."

School Library Journal Review

Gr 2 Up-This splendidly illustrated tribute comes in time to celebrate the upcoming 50th anniversary of Dr. King's historic speech given on August 28, 1963. The full text is appended, though Nelson has chosen to illustrate just the latter portion, beginning with the words, "I say to you today, my friends, that even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream." The luminous oil paintings employ a variety of techniques-scenes at the Lincoln Memorial have a sweeping impressionistic quality while other spreads employ the artist's signature photorealistic style. From the wraparound jacket featuring a powerful image of Dr. King, Nelson makes good use of the large, square trim size and generous design appropriate to illustrate such a significant moment in the Civil Rights Movement. While putting his own interpretative spin on the iconic words, he remains sensitive to King's intent; for example, several paintings focus on King's hope that all people will someday live in harmony-a theme that runs through the oration. The layout matches the tempo of the words with dramatic spreads resounding with the refrain "I have a dream," and the "Let freedom ring" chorus scenes unfold as a creative series of geographic panels. Even after 50 years, this seminal address still has the power to move listeners, and this handsome illustrated version will be welcomed in all collections. Includes a CD of Dr. King's original speech.-Caroline Ward, The Ferguson Library, Stamford, CT (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Review

A handsome edition in which 15 illustrators, Coretta Scott King's foreword, and an appended two-page biography of Martin Luther King Jr. create a unique context for his famous speech of 1963. It is as timely today as it was in the 1960s, and the artists have done the words justice: The astonishing courage required to remain nonviolent appears in George Ford's art for ""Meeting Physical Force with Soul Force,"" while James Ransome provides an idealized, yet attainable banquet for ""The Table of Brotherhood."" Among the other artists are Jerry Pinkney, Brian Pinkney, Leo and Diane Dillon, Tom Feelings, and Pat Cummings. Adults who heard the speech will experience it anew; children who didn't will be able to place the words in a historical framework. Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.