Students recite ‘I Have a Dream’ speech at the Lincoln Memorial

"Have a Dream Speech” about to be recited by Watkins Elementary students. (WTOP/Kristi King)
The “I Have a Dream Speech” was recited by Watkins Elementary students. (WTOP/Kristi King)
As classmates recite "I Have A Dream" Taylor Young and Nina Allen 2nd graders cheer them on. (WTOP/Kristi King)
As classmates recite Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech, second-graders Taylor Young and Nina Allen cheer them on. (WTOP/Kristi King)
Fifth-grader Myles Nixon opens the "I Have A Dream" reading by Watkins Elementary School students. (WTOP/Kristi King)
Fifth-grader Myles Nixon opens the “I Have A Dream” reading by Watkins Elementary School students. (WTOP/Kristi King)
Mary and 2yr old Luke Lovelace have a 3rd grader at Watkins also watching the "I Have A Dream" reading (WTOP/Kristi King)
Mary and 2 year-old Luke Lovelace watching the “I Have A Dream” reading. (WTOP/Kristi King)
8yr old Owen Black of Watkins Elem at "I Have A Dream" reading by 5th gr class (WTOP/Kristi King)
Owen Black — 8, of Watkins Elementary School, at the “I Have A Dream” reading. (WTOP/Kristi King)
NPS staff Charles Price & Alonzo Carroll are charmed by 5th graders reading "I Have A Dream"
National Park Serivce staffers Charles Price and Alonzo Carroll are charmed by fifth-graders reading “I Have A Dream” speech. (WTOP/Kristi King)
(WTOP/Kristi King)
Triumphant Watkins Elemen 5th grade readers of "I Have A Dream" (WTOP/Kristi King)
Watkins Elementary School 5th graders stand triumphant after “I Have A Dream” reading. (WTOP/Kristi King)
Ahn'aste Summers & Frances Williams watch William's 5th grader help recite "I Have A Dream" (WTOP/Kristi King)
Ahn’aste Summers and Frances Williams watch William’s 5th grader help recite “I Have A Dream” speech. (WTOP/Kristi King)
(WTOP/Kristi King)
Watkins Elem reading of "I Have A Dream" at the Lincoln Memorial founder Amy Wertheimer "It's delightful/incredible"
Amy Wertheimer, founder of Watkins Elementary School’s reading of “I Have A Dream” at the Lincoln Memorial, says it is a “delightful” and “incredible” event. (WTOP/Kristi King)
Pat Clausen, grandmother of Watkins Elem 1st grader at "I Have A Dream" reading (WTOP/Kristi King)
Pat Clausen, grandmother of a Watkins Elementary School 1st grader, watches “I Have A Dream” reading. (WTOP/Kristi King)
(WTOP/Kristi King)
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"Have a Dream Speech” about to be recited by Watkins Elementary students. (WTOP/Kristi King)
As classmates recite "I Have A Dream" Taylor Young and Nina Allen 2nd graders cheer them on. (WTOP/Kristi King)
Fifth-grader Myles Nixon opens the "I Have A Dream" reading by Watkins Elementary School students. (WTOP/Kristi King)
Mary and 2yr old Luke Lovelace have a 3rd grader at Watkins also watching the "I Have A Dream" reading (WTOP/Kristi King)
8yr old Owen Black of Watkins Elem at "I Have A Dream" reading by 5th gr class (WTOP/Kristi King)
NPS staff Charles Price & Alonzo Carroll are charmed by 5th graders reading "I Have A Dream"
Triumphant Watkins Elemen 5th grade readers of "I Have A Dream" (WTOP/Kristi King)
Ahn'aste Summers & Frances Williams watch William's 5th grader help recite "I Have A Dream" (WTOP/Kristi King)
Watkins Elem reading of "I Have A Dream" at the Lincoln Memorial founder Amy Wertheimer "It's delightful/incredible"
Pat Clausen, grandmother of Watkins Elem 1st grader at "I Have A Dream" reading (WTOP/Kristi King)
April 24, 2024 | WTOP’s Kristi King talks with participants and the founder of the “I Have A Dream” yearly children’s reenactment. (Keara Dowd)

WASHINGTON — Dozens of children gathered on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial Friday to deliver the “I Have A Dream Speech” of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“This is a wonderful opportunity the Park Service gives us every year,” says teacher Amy Wertheimer, who organizes the effort with students from Watkins Elementary in Southeast. “We are the only school in the entire country that’s been asked to do this.”

In addition to remembering and reciting their individual lines the children learn what Dr. King was trying to accomplish. “In 2015-16 language – what he actually meant,”  Wertheimer explains.

The recitation always happens on the Friday before the Martin Luther King Jr. federal holiday. This year, that happens to correspond with the King’s actual birthday. “Which makes it even more exciting,” Wertheimer said with a grin.

April 24, 2024 | (Keara Dowd)

Editor’s note: The full speech has been edited to remove pauses between children walking to the podium.

Kristi King

Kristi King is a veteran reporter who has been working in the WTOP newsroom since 1990. She covers everything from breaking news to consumer concerns and the latest medical developments.

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