“Brilliantly blending practical politics with his inspiring social vision, King reminds white Americans of the continuing abuse of black rights (African Americans generally did not need reminding), condemns the gap between America’s democratic ideals and the realities of its racial practices (hence the speech starts with a nod to Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address”, and frames black demands within the context of America’s core civic values), and hints at the dire consequences of failing to address these issues immediately (the speech is haunted by the spectre of more militant black protest if nonviolent demands for basic citizenship rights are not met).
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.