I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with new meaning: My country, ‘tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrims’ pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true. And so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania. Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado. Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California. But not only that, let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia. Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee. Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, and when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of 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 the old Negro spiritual: Free at last. Free at last. Thank God almighty, we are free at last.


“Until the middle of the 1960s, Booker T. Washington High School was the virtual center of the Black community in Conroe, Texas, my hometown, with individual churches serving as denominational satellites.”—Annette Gordon Reed


“Origin stories matter, for individuals, groups of people, and for nations. They inform our sense of self; telling us what kind of people we believe we are, what kind of nation we believe we live in.”—Annette Gordon-Reed


“Cabeza de Vaca, who lived to produce a wildly popular memoir of the extraordinary adventure, wrote about Estebanico as having played a key role as the chief translator between the Spaniards and the Indigenous people because of his great talent for learning and speaking languages.”—Annette Gordon-Reed


“We were exhorted to ‘Remember the Alamo’ and to ‘Remember Goliad’ …. Why were those things to be remembered, while the history of an important reason Stephen F. Austin came to Texas, and all that flowed from that fateful decision to put slavery at the heart of Texas, to be forgotten? The question is especially important because while legalized slavery ended, the racially based hierarchy it put in place remained, poisoning the well of social relations in Texas over the ensuing decades.”—Annette Gordon-Reed


“Becoming educated was an act of resistance. The classroom was a site of that resistance. Along with ministers, many of whom also saw racial uplift as part of their task, schoolteachers were among the most respected members of the Black community. These women and men were role models, charged with preparing the next generation of Black children to take the steps toward community advancement.”—Annette Gordon-Reed