Notable Speeches and Letters by African Americans, From Benjamin Banneker to Barack Obama

Updated February 12, 2020 | Infoplease Staff


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Benjamin Banneker

A Letter to Thomas Jefferson
Maryland, August 19, 1791

Mary McLeod Bethune

What Does American Democracy Mean to Me?
New York, N.Y., Nov. 23, 1939

Stokely Carmichael

Black Power
Berkeley, California, 1966

Shirley Chisholm

Equal Rights For Women
Washington, DC, May 21, 1969

Frederick Douglass

If I Had a Country, I Should Be a Patriot
Syracuse, New York, Sept., 24, 1847

What to the Slave on the Fourth of July?
Rochester, New York, July 4, 1852

Appeal to Congress for Impartial Suffrage
Washington, DC, Jan. 1867

W.E.B. Du Bois

Men of Niagara
Harpers Ferry, W.V., Aug. 16, 1906

Marcus Garvey

Explanation of the Objects of the Universal Negro Improvement Association
New York, N.Y., July 1921

Fannie Lou Hamer

Democratic National Convention Speech
Atlantic City, N.J., July 22, 1964

Anita Hill

Opening Statement: Sexual Harrassment Hearings
Washington, DC, Oct. 11, 1991

Jesse Jackson

Democratic National Convention Address: The Rainbow Coalition
San Francisco, Calif., July 18, 1984

Barbara Jordan

Statement on the Articles of Impeachment to the House Judiciary Committee
Washington, DC, July 25, 1974

Speech at the Democratic National Convention
New York, N.Y., July 12, 1976

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Letter from Birmingham Jail
April 16, 1963 group/King/popular_requests/frequentdocs/birmingham.pdf (PDF)

March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom
August 28, 1963 group/King/publications/speeches/address_at_march_on_washington.pdf (PDF)

Acceptance Speech at Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony December 10, 1964 group/King/publications/speeches/acceptance_speech_at_nobel_peace.htm

Beyond Vietnam
April 4, 1967 group/King/publications/speeches/Beyond_Vietnam.pdf (PDF)

I've Been To The Mountaintop
April 3, 1968

Thurgood Marshall

The Legal Attack to Secure Civil Rights
Chicago, Ill., July 13, 1942

The Equality Speech
Washington, DC, Nov. 18, 1978

The Sword and the Robe
May 8, 1981

Remarks on the Bicentennial of the Constitution
Maui, Hawaii, May 8, 1987

Barack Obama

Inaugural Address
Washington, D.C., January 20, 2009

"A More Perfect Union"
Philadelphia, Pa., March 18, 2008

Speech at the Democratic National Convention
Boston, Mass., July 27, 2004

Adam Clayton Powell

Speech on Civil Rights
Washington, DC, Feb. 2, 1955

Mary Church Terrell

What It Means to be Colored in the Capital of the United States
Washington, D.C., Oct. 10, 1906

Sojourner Truth

Ain't I a Woman?
Women's Rights Convention, Akron, Ohio, 1851

Booker T. Washington

Atlanta Compromise
Atlanta, Georgia, Sept.18, 1895

Democracy and Education
Brooklyn, N.Y., Sept. 30, 1896

Ida B. Wells

NAACP Speech Against Lynching
Baltimore, Md., Feb. 12, 1909

Roy Wilkins

The Clock Will Not be Turned Back
San Francisco, Calif., Nov. 1, 1957

Malcolm X

Message to the Grass Roots
Detroit, Mich., Nov. 10, 1963

The Ballot or the Bullet
Detroit, Mich., April 4, 1964

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